Whiplash is a common injury that occurs during a car accident. Whiplash injuries happen when the neck muscles become strained from an intense forward and backward motion during the initial impact. Whiplash can cause acute short-term pain and restricted movement in the upper body.
Chiropractic treatment can help alleviate the symptoms and pain associated with whiplash. Here’s everything you need to know regarding how to treat whiplash and whiplash car accident chiropractic treatments.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to your neck muscles, ligaments, or tendons. It occurs when your neck bends forcibly backward and forward, and vice versa. This condition is often poorly understood and commonly misdiagnosed after a car accident. Pain is usually immediate and involves the muscles, tendons, nerves, and discs in the neck. In severe cases, whiplash can impact the neck’s soft tissue and even the spine itself. While some minor issues may not require whiplash treatments, more severe cases often require chiropractic care.
How Does Whiplash Happen?
The most common cause of whiplash is a rear-end car crash. This sudden force causes the ligaments within the neck to hyperextend beyond the normal curve of the upper neck and back.
This rapid movement can also cause the ligaments and muscles in the neck to become overstretched. The neck is a vulnerable part of the body, particularly during car collisions. The pain associated with whiplash varies from mild to debilitating.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Most of the symptoms associated with whiplash occur in the neck and upper back. Some pain starts immediately following a car crash, while other forms of pain take a little longer. Symptoms vary by the extent of the injury and the general health status of the victim. While you may experience only minor symptoms, your passenger may have severe whiplash-related pain. The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle tightness
- Muscle spasms, particularly in the neck or upper back
- Pain with movement
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shoulder pain
- Limited range of motion
- Difficulty sleeping
This is not a comprehensive list of whiplash symptoms. However, severe whiplash symptoms are often associated with chronic pain. Fortunately, seeking treatment from a whiplash chiropractor can help with both acute and chronic pain.
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Even if your whiplash pain is mild, you should make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can help diagnose the extent and nature of your whiplash. Your doctor may use an X-ray to see if bone fractures accompany your whiplash. Other diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan may help identify if you have a ligament injury or a herniated disc.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Whiplash?
Most cases of whiplash are improving within a short period of time, especially if the proper treatment comes soon after the injury. However, other cases are more complicated and result in long-term pain and symptoms.
The long-term symptoms of whiplash include:
- Stiffness in the neck and upper back
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping issues
- Jaw pain
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling sensations in the arms/legs
- Blurry vision
Seeing a whiplash chiropractor soon after the injury can help minimize the chance of long-term complications. While ongoing pain management is sometimes necessary, consulting with a doctor early provides you with the best opportunity for recovery.
How Does a Whiplash Chiropractor Diagnose a Whiplash Injury?
A whiplash chiropractor can evaluate your spine as a whole and can identify the root cause of your pain. During your initial exam, your doctor identifies areas of limited motion, muscle spasms, ligament damage, and/or disc injuries.
Your chiropractor will examine the entire spine area because whiplash often impacts other areas of the spine other than the neck. Most chiropractors utilize a technique called palpation when diagnosing back and neck injuries. This hands-on diagnostic technique evaluates the movement of the body’s joints to identify restrictions.
Your chiropractor may also prompt you to undertake certain movements to diagnose injuries. While you walk or perform precise movements, your doctor will take note of your spinal alignment and posture. These details can help your doctor figure out what is going on inside your body and pinpoint areas of damage.
In addition to a hands-on evaluation, your doctor may also use an X-ray or MRI to diagnose the extent of your injuries. These diagnostic tools can help identify degenerative changes that may have existed before the car crash. These images are compared to a neurological evaluation to develop the best whiplash car accident treatment plan.
What Are the Stages of Whiplash Car Accident Treatment?
Are you wondering how to treat whiplash? You should seek your first chiropractic appointment soon after the car crash occurs. During the acute pain phase, reducing inflammation is vital. Your doctor may also use hands-on techniques such as stretching and muscle strengthening therapy to reduce inflammation and decrease pain.
During this acute phase, your chiropractor may also recommend you use an ice pack or a neck brace for a few weeks. Your doctor may also begin to perform gentle spinal manipulation during this phase to help realign your neck muscles and your spine. As your neck begins to heal, ice therapy and a neck brace are no longer needed.
What Are My Chiropractic Whiplash Treatment Options?
Wondering how to treat whiplash? Your chiropractor will recommend a treatment plan depending on the severity of your whiplash. Most doctors begin with a technique called spinal manipulation.
Chiropractors commonly use the following technique:
- Instrument-assisted manipulation: This hands-on technique can help relieve whiplash pain. During these treatment sessions, your doctor uses an instrument to apply a specific amount of force into the spine. This technique may help relieve pressure and realign discs in the spine.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, your chiropractor may also perform specific spinal manipulation. This treatment technique includes restricting certain spinal joints to restore motion with a gentle thrusting technique. This method stimulates the nervous system and may help you regain normal spinal movement.
How Can I Enhance My Whiplash Car Accident Treatments?
Seeing a chiropractor can help you recover from whiplash after a car crash. However, your chiropractic care does not end in the doctor’s office. There are things you can do at home to ensure you get the most from your treatment sessions:
1- Maintain Consistency
Pain relief does not happen overnight, and you need to be consistent in your efforts. Your body and nervous system have sustained damage, and it will take time to relieve this dysfunction. It takes time for your body to get back to normal functionality. You need to be patient and consistently visit your chiropractor. Your doctor will create a treatment plan to help you get back to optimal health.
2- Practice Proper Posture
It is crucial to maintain proper posture while receiving treatments for whiplash. If you leave the office and slump at your computer each day, your treatments may not do very much good. When sitting at a desk or table, take one break an hour to stretch your muscles. Also, keep your elbows and knees bent at a 90-degree angle to maintain proper spine alignment.
3- Drink Water
Hydration is an essential aspect of your overall health, and drinking enough water each day is essential for recovery. Dehydration can impact your body’s ability to heal itself. Ask your doctor how much water you should drink each day.
4- Eat Healthily
Fueling your body with healthy, nutritious food is an important part of healing. Consuming healthy food is essential in maintaining your central nervous system and overall good body function. Ask your chiropractor if you should follow a specific diet during the treatment process.
While you may want to stay in bed after experiencing whiplash, movement is an integral part of the healing process. Performing gentle exercises such as stretches, yoga, and walking may help you recover more quickly. Ask your chiropractor for approval before starting any exercise regime during whiplash treatment.
Work With Bayside Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture
Are you wondering how to treat your whiplash? Bayside Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture can help. We provide comprehensive whiplash chiropractor services in New York.
Our experienced chiropractors are ready to provide you with a treatment plan to relieve your whiplash pain.
Don’t wait any longer to receive the help you need. Our team focuses on restoring your quality of life by reducing your pain. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.