Did you know that approximately two thirds of people in car accidents develop symptoms of whiplash? Whiplash—also known as neck sprain or strain—occurs when the head jerks forward or backwards suddenly: a common occurrence in car accidents. When this happens, the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the neck can stretch or even tear. Disks, blood vessels, and nerves can also be damaged. But it can take anywhere from 2 to 48 hours for whiplash symptoms to develop. These may include:
- Neck pain that can radiate into the shoulders, arms, upper back and upper chest
- Tingling that can start in the neck and go down the back and arms
- Neck stiffness and reduction in range of motion
- Headaches; especially at the base of the skull
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blurred vision
Some symptoms of whiplash may resolve quickly, but others can last for years. As many as 85% of people who incur a whiplash injury still have symptoms 5 years after the accident. Many of those people have a straightening or reversal of their cervical curvature which can ultimately lead to disk degeneration.
If you go to an emergency room or medical doctor for the treatment of whiplash, you will likely be prescribed rest, pain medication, ice packs, and a soft cervical collar. After the first 24-48 hours, treatment may change to alternating ice packs with heat packs, physical therapy and deep tissue massage.
Medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic are in agreement with the direction care should take following a whiplash injury. But chiropractors can offer additional treatment options that help alleviate pain and speed recovery in those suffering from whiplash—and prevent chronic whiplash that can last for years. In addition, if you suffered whiplash years ago and are now dealing with chronic whiplash syndrome, chiropractic care today can still be extremely beneficial. A study published in injury showed that chiropractic treatment helped 26 of 28 patients suffering from chronic whiplash syndrome.
Your chiropractic care may include:
- Chiropractic adjustments—By performing gentle spinal manipulation, chiropractors can carefully move the joint in the area of injury to encourage mobility and healing. This helps to eliminate pain, soreness, and stiffness as well.
- Muscle relaxation and stimulation—Gentle stretches and finger pressure to the affected muscles relieve tension and pain. Low frequency electrical stimulation of the muscles may also be applied to reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and help with healing.
- Ultrasound—Sometimes ultrasound is used to send sound waves deep into muscle tissue. This serves to increase circulation and decrease muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain.
- Exercises—Specific exercises may be applied to reduce disc derangement, improve flexibility, and restore mobility.
Because each whiplash case is different, your chiropractic will decide what methods of healing are best for you.
Our chiropractors at Accident and Injury Chiropractic are dedicated to the proper diagnosis and treatment of whiplash and other injuries sustained from car accidents. They have all become, or are on the path to becoming, certified in Whiplash and Brain Injury Traumatology through the Spine Research Institute of San Diego (SRISD).
So, if you’re in a car accident and have any of the symptoms of whiplash, or if you were in an accident years ago and have chronic whiplash symptoms, come to the nearest Accident and Injury Chiropractic office ASAP. Don’t risk it. Get checked out and treated today.