Whiplash is a serious injury with serious consequences if not treated properly. The most common cause of whiplash is involvement in an automobile accident. The injury is sustained when the head is thrown rapidly forward and backward such as it would when one vehicle strikes another from behind.
Some of the symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, headache, shoulder pain and stiffness, dizziness, fatigue, TMJ, arm pain and weakness, tinnitus and back pain. Whiplash itself is a sprain type of injury to the soft tissues such as the ligaments and tendons. Sometimes these injuries show immediate symptoms, but it can take some time to develop, even years, which is why any neck injury should be evaluated by a chiropractor.
What if I Feel Fine?
In the past, it was hard to diagnose and prove a whiplash injury since the affected areas are not bone and do not show up on x-rays. More recently these injuries are being evaluated by a CAT scan, MRI or ultrasound which can show these areas of soft tissue that are affected. Many will suffer whiplash pain in their shoulder or whiplash pain at the base of the skull.
In any accident you should be evaluated by a doctor no matter how you feel after the accident, especially if your whiplash pain is getting worse. Sometimes injuries, especially whiplash, do not begin to cause symptoms right away. In fact, it can be days, weeks or even years before symptoms begin to manifest and many patients report they have whiplash pain after 6 months or more.
What are the Variables in Whiplash Injury?
One variable leading to greater injury is vehicle size. Persons in a situation where their vehicle is struck by a larger vehicle suffer greater injuries; however, even in situations where the vehicles are roughly the same size, serious injury can still occur. Even at very low speeds the force on the neck is more than enough to cause whiplash.
How can a Chiropractor Help?
A chiropractor specializes in these types of injuries and can help you fully recover from a whiplash injury. Initial treatment involves the muscles in the injured area and a program of muscle relaxation and stimulation to assist the affected muscles return to normal.
If the affected muscles are extremely tight, a more dynamic stretch is applied to release that tension and a massage of associated trigger points can help muscles relax. Other exercises such as McKenzie exercises consist of exercises to move pain from the extremities to the back where it can be better tolerated. McKenzie exercises also reduce disc derangement. These can be continued at home after the initial treatment in the chiropractor’s office.
Other exercises are designed to adjust movement patterns in the normal course of daily activities to minimize pain and to train the body to control movement patterns which improves the stability of the muscles to increase the muscle’s ability to maintain the stability of the neck.
Chiropractic Advice on Lifestyle Changes
As a result of whiplash it is suggested that the patient makes certain lifestyle adjustments and also seek to make their work environment easier on their body by creating workstations that are ergonomically designed to relieve stress on the back and neck area. At the same time, the doctor will assess a patient’s recreation activities and make recommendations as to how to incorporate these safely into the patient’s life.
Whiplash Treatment Plan
Often chiropractors will also perform manipulation to the cervical spine, as this is usually the first treatment used in whiplash and in other back pain problems. Spinal manipulation seeks to reduce pain, improve range of motion, and restore function to the neck. Both the cervical spinal manipulation and cervical spine mobilization come under this line of treatment.
To prevent permanent pain from whiplash, a chiropractor will assess the patient to determine if he or she is susceptible to ongoing pain from this injury, and, if so, he will take more aggressive measures to prevent this from happening. Early in the treatment process a program to assist the patient in returning to work and everyday life will be begun to ensure the least amount of disruption to the patient’s life.
Proper care is needed from the outset of the injury to ensure the best outcome and a pain-free future.
Do you have whiplash pain? Ask Dr. Kris Dorken how chiropractic care can help. Call now on (416) 479 – 8311.