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How To Take Care of Whiplash

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Chiropractic Care for Whiplash: Could It Help Your Neck Pain?

Neck pain and stiffness after a motor vehicle accident or fall could be signs of whiplash, an injury that affects the soft tissues in the neck. Without prompt treatment, symptoms could last weeks, months, or even years. Fortunately, your chiropractor offers several treatments designed to improve whiplash pain.

What Causes Whiplash?

Whiplash happens during a motor vehicle accident when your head jerks back and forth. Any act that causes your head to “whip” back and forth violently can result in whiplash. You could develop whiplash if you ride a roller coaster, fall when skiing, or if you are tackled or fall when playing sports.

As your head moves back and forth, several things happen to your neck. First, muscles in your neck become strained as they’re pushed past their limits. The sudden movements may also change the alignment of the vertebrae in your neck and back, in addition to straining ligaments that connect bones together and tendons that attach muscles to bones.

Whiplash is a common injury. According to an analysis of crash and hospital data in Accident Analysis and Prevention in 2020, more than 1.2 million people experience whiplash every year.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash symptoms don’t always start immediately, but may start hours or days after your injury. Symptoms may include:

  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder and Upper Back Pain
  • Headache
  • Stiff Neck
  • Reduced Range of Motion in Your Neck
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or Tingling That Travels to the Shoulder, Arm or Hand
  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Abnormal Fatigue
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Trouble Sleeping

Chiropractic Treatments Ease Whiplash Symptoms

Your chiropractor offers natural, drug-free methods that soothe sore tissues and realign the vertebrae in your neck. Therapies that might be included in your whiplash treatment plan include:

  • Soft Tissue Mobilization. Your muscles tighten in an attempt to protect your joints, vertebrae, ligaments, and tendons when an injury happens. Unfortunately, the muscles don’t always relax on their own, which can lead to pain and stiffness. During soft tissue mobilization, your chiropractor uses his or her hands to gently stretch and loosen the muscles and soft tissues. As the treatment progresses, your doctor varies the pressure and the length of the strokes depending on the resistance encountered. In addition to relieving muscle tension and improving range of motion, soft tissue mobilization reduces muscle spasms and breaks up scar tissue. Although scar tissue is essential for injury repair, it may cause or worsen pain and stiffness.
  • Spinal Manipulation. Spinal manipulation repositions misaligned vertebrae in your neck and back. In addition to causing neck pain, subluxations pull on muscles and soft tissues, increasing muscle tension and soreness. Correcting the misalignment loosens soft tissues and decreases painful pressure on nerves. Your chiropractor uses his or her hands or an activator to quickly realign the vertebrae during spinal manipulation. The treatment decreases pain, improves range of motion, and may reduce the production of proteins involved in inflammation.
  • Massage. Massage may also be part of your treatment plan. The therapy improves circulation to your neck and decreases pain by relaxing tight tissues. As your chiropractor massages painful tissues, your body increases its production of endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin.
  • Other Therapies. Ultrasound therapy may be used to decrease inflammation and ease pain and stiffness. The Graston Technique, a type of instrument-assisted therapy, breaks apart scar tissue and loosens tight muscles and soft tissues. If your pain is due to a bulging spinal disc, your chiropractor may use flexion-distraction to reduce pressure on your nerves.

Are you struggling with whiplash pain? Chiropractic care could help you get back to normal. Call our office to schedule your appointment.

FAQ

How long does it take to heal from whiplash?

Most whiplash victims, especially those with lower grades, can recover in a few days or weeks. The healing process for more severe whiplash might take many weeks or even months.

When complications result in chronic pain or inflammation in and around your spine, whiplash lasts the longest. A healthcare provider is the best source of information on what to expect in your particular instance as the healing period from chronic sequelae of whiplash can vary greatly.

How do I know if my whiplash is serious?

Following up with a physician is highly recommended as soon as possible when:
+ moving your head hurts,
+ your arms are numb or weak, even if only slightly,
+ your symptoms have moved to your shoulders or arms.

What can make whiplash worse?

“Rest equals rust” is a saying you may hear often when it comes to whiplash.

After a whiplash injury, you most likely do not want to move a lot for fear of worsening the pain. However, prolonged rest can make the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back weak and tight, which will only make the pain worse and take healing longer.

What happens if whiplash goes untreated?

Untreated whiplash can result in spinal misalignment because it puts strain on the tendons and ligaments in your neck as well as the muscles in your neck. Chronic structural issues can in fact end up impacting you from your head to your feet if your spine is out of alignment.

NOTE: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not replace professional medical treatment. Dakota Ridge Chiropractic cannot be held liable for any action you take based on the above article without medical consultation.

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