In the United States, more than three million people experience whiplash. While motor vehicle accidents contribute to most cases, sports injuries (especially high-impact sports), work injuries, physical abuse, and falls can also cause whiplash. This injury can contribute to short-term (acute) pain or, in severe cases, result in long-term disability or complications due to chronic pain and restricted movement.
For many suffering from whiplash symptoms, chiropractic care can make a world of difference. A study published in Injury showed that 93 percent of patients with chronic whiplash showed significant improvement with chiropractic care. Here we will show how chiropractic care can treat whiplash and get you on the road to recovery.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash, also known as cervical acceleration/deceleration (CAD) syndrome, is a soft tissue neck injury sometimes called a neck sprain or strain.
It commonly occurs due to sudden extension and flexion of the neck and can cause injury to the cervical muscles, intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, and nerve roots. Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Shoulder pain
- Low back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm or hand
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Memory and concentration problems
- Tiredness or sleeplessness
How Does a Chiropractor Diagnose Whiplash?
When you see a Franklin chiropractor for care, they evaluate your entire spine. This is true in the case of whiplash as well. A chiropractor will identify areas of restricted joint movement, potential disc injuries, muscle spasms, and potential ligament injuries.
To do this, a chiropractor uses techniques known as static and motion palpation. During static palpation, you remain still while the chiropractor palpates the spine and surrounding tissue. In motion palpation, the chiropractor watches and feels how the joints and tissue react during movement.
In cases where severe injury may be present, a chiropractor may request diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays, MRIs or CTs, to look for possible fractures or degenerative changes.
Treating Whiplash with Chiropractor Care
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash depends on the severity of your injury. Initial whiplash treatment focuses on reducing the inflammation and swelling that is common. This may be as simple as the application of ice at home on a regular basis, but can also include specific techniques, including:
- Basic Neck Stretching Exercises – These simple exercises can help to reduce inflammation.
- Ultrasound Therapy – Ultrasound therapy sends sound waves into the muscle tissue in your neck, helping to increase blood circulation. This increased circulation helps to reduce inflammation as well as decrease muscle spasms, muscle stiffness, and pain.
- Interferential Current Stimulation (IFS), or Interferential Therapy (IFT) – This treatment options utilizes the use of electrical currents to stimulate your muscles and nerves. This treatment helps reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and improve your range of motion.
Most treatment options then progress to include some form of spinal manipulation.
There are several different spinal manipulation techniques and soft-tissue therapy that chiropractors use to treat symptoms of whiplash. These can include:
- Flexion-Distraction Technique – If your whiplash aggravated a bulging or herniated disc in your spine, the chiropractor may use this hands-on technique. This technique uses gentle and non-forced movements to take pressure off spinal nerves, relieving pain.
- Instrument-Assisted Manipulation – With this technique, the chiropractor uses a specialized tool to apply non-thrusting force to the spine. This works well for older patients or those with degenerative joint syndrome.
- Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy – Similar to manipulation, this technique utilizes specialized instruments to treat injuries to the soft tissue. These instruments provide pressure during tissue massage.
- Muscle Energy Therapy (MET) – This manual therapy uses the natural energy within the muscles to help relax and lengthen damaged muscle.
- Therapeutic Massage – Different therapeutic massage techniques can help to ease muscle tension in the neck caused by your whiplash injury.
- Specific Spinal Manipulation – This technique targets specific joints in the spine that show restricted or abnormal motion. A chiropractor may use their hands or special instruments to apply a controlled force to the damaged joint. This force helps to restore the natural joint movement as well as stimulate the nervous system.
- Trigger Point Therapy – Trigger point therapy is a type of massage therapy that targets tight areas within the muscle (trigger points) that causes muscle spasms. In many whiplash cases, these trigger points contribute to sharp and intense muscle spasms and pain. Trigger point therapy applies direct pressure and release to these specific points to relax the muscle.
Chiropractic care after a whiplash injury can make a big difference in your recovery. While many can recover from whiplash injuries within a few weeks, others can experience long-term or life-long pain and complications from whiplash.
Regular chiropractic care helps to reduce the risk of long-term effects and get you back to your daily routine with more range of motion and reduced or eliminated pain.
Here in Franklin, TN, Dr. Morgan and his team treat Whiplash with traditional Chiropractic Care, alongside more modern modalities, including K-Laser.
Contact us today to see how we can make a difference.