Understanding and Treating Whiplash

Whiplash is the generic word used to describe an injury that’s caused by the neck violently jerking in one direction and then another, like a whip. It’s most often associated with car accidents, but whiplash related disorder can occur from falls and other injuries. 

Signs and symptoms of whiplash 

By far, the most common symptom of whiplash is pain in the neck, although stiffness frequently accompanies the pain. Headache, particularly at the base of the skull is another common sign of whiplash, seen in more than two-thirds of patients. Pain can also radiate down from the neck into the shoulders, upper back, chest and arms. Some whiplash sufferers even report blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and difficulty swallowing. It is important to note that whiplash symptoms typically do not occur until hours after the injury. 

How to treat whiplash 

If you’ve been in an accident that’s caused damage to your neck, it’s important that you see your chiropractic team as soon as possible. Your chiropractor will examine your spine and other regions to find out what parts of your body have been damaged. 

If your chiropractor notices any areas with restricted joint motion, spasms or injuries, he or she may order an X-ray. Your walk and posture will also be observed. All of these observations will be noted in order to make an effective treatment plan for whiplash treatment. 

While whiplash treatments will vary from person to person, the most common chiropractic treatment will be gentle spinal manipulation, designed to restore the normal movement of the neck joints. Your chiropractor may also recommend gentle stretches to strengthen the neck muscles on your own. An ice pack and neck support are also frequently advised. 

Avoiding chronic pain 

After suffering a whiplash injury, many people go on to suffer from chronic neck pain. For this reason, your chiropractor will identify if you’re at risk for developing chronic neck pain from your injury. 

The main goal for recovery after whiplash is to restore your function as quickly as possible. This means that your chiropractor will want to ensure you’re able to get back to work and the rest of your life in a timely manner. Exercise for correcting the injury and promoting overall fitness is a key element in treating whiplash injury and enabling you to resume your normal life. 

It’s important for you to be proactive following any type of injury, but especially one that affects an area as delicate as your neck. If you’re in an accident, particularly one involving a vehicle, where your neck is jostled, it’s imperative that you contact your chiropractor as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel any pain. Addressing a neck injury quickly is much better than waiting until the pain has become unmanageable. Professional chiropractic treatment and taking care of yourself can keep whiplash from becoming a chronic pain in the neck. 


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