A person has a whiplash when his or her head moves backwards, and forward suddenly with great force. A whiplash injury is common following a motor vehicle collision (MVC). Other factors that may cause a whiplash injury include sports injuries, physical abuse, or rides at amusement parks.
When you have a whiplash, it means that the soft tissues of your neck (your ligaments and muscles) have extended beyond their normal range of motion. You may not notice the secondary conditions until after a while. As such, you should be observant, and be attentive to any physical changes for a few days following a traumatic event.
Whiplash may be a mild condition at the time, but it can cause prolonged discomfort and pain if left uncorrected.
What Causes a Whiplash Injury?
You may have a whiplash when your neck muscles are strained. The straining of your neck muscles may be caused by the rapid movement of the neck. The sudden motion causes a stretch and a tear in the ligaments and tendons of your neck. This results in whiplash.
Common causes of whiplash include:
· Automobile accidents
· Horseback riding
· Contact sports like boxing, karate, and football
· Physical abuse
· Cycling accidents
· Heavy blows to the head
What Does it Feel Like to Have a Whiplash?
The secondary complaints of whiplash usually come up within 24 hours after an incident that caused it. In some cases, theses symptoms may take a few days to come up. You may not feel the effects of the injury until a few weeks after the motor vehicle accident.
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
· Stiffness and neck pain
· Blurred vision
· Fatigue and weariness
Symptoms less commonly associated with whiplash include:
· Ringing in the ears
· Problems with memory and concentration
· Poor sleep habits
· Chronic pain in the head, shoulders, and neck
You must see your healthcare provider if:
· You experience pain when moving your head
· Your symptoms spread to your arms or shoulders
· You experience weakness or pain in your arms
How Does a Chiropractor Evaluate a Whiplash Injury?
Your chiropractor will carry out a full evaluation of your spine whether you feel pain in only one part of your body or not. They will examine the whole spine because other parts of the spine may be affected.
Your chiropractor will point out the affected regions, areas of your joint with restricted motion, muscle spasm, intervertebral disc injury, and injury to your ligaments. Your chiropractor will use a motion and static palpation technique for diagnosis. This diagnostic technique involves touch. He or she will feel some tenderness, tightness, as well as the easy movement of the joints in your spine.
Your pattern of walking, posture, and spinal alignment will also be observed. These will allow your chiropractor to understand your body’s mechanics as well as the workings of your spine, thus assisting in a proper diagnosis.
Apart from the evaluation of your spine, your chiropractor may order a spinal MRI or X-ray. These imaging studies will help him/her to evaluate degenerative changes in your spine — changes that may have occurred even before you had the whiplash injury. Also, your chiropractor may compare these diagnostic images with the results of your neurological and physical evaluation to develop the best plan of treatment.
What are the Stages of Whiplash Treatment?
After you’ve been evaluated for a whiplash injury, your chiropractor will start the initial phase of care. The goal of care is to reduce inflammation in your neck and back. He or she may accomplish this with various modalities. Your doctor may use manual therapy and gentle stretching techniques (like muscle energy therapy).
Your chiropractor may also advise that you apply an ice pack or light neck support for a short period. As the pain and inflammation decrease, your chiropractor will restore the normal motion of the facet joints of your neck using gentle spinal manipulation or other chiropractic techniques.
Different Types of Chiropractic for Whiplash
Your treatment will depend on how severe your injury is. Spinal manipulation is the commonest treatment technique for whiplash injury. Other techniques used by chiropractors include:
·Instrument-Assisted Manipulation:This is a thrusting technique used by traditional chiropractors. The chiropractor will use a special hand-held device called an Activator® to apply force to your spine but without thrusting it. This technique is best used for older patients that are affected by a degenerative joint syndrome.
·Flexion-Distraction Technique:This is a gentle form of spinal manipulation used for the treatment of herniated discs. In some cases, a whiplash injury may aggravate a herniated or bulging disc. Your chiropractor will apply a slow pumping action on the disc as opposed to applying a direct force to your spine.
·Foundational Correction:Your chiropractor will use this technique to identify restricted joints in the upper cervical spine (top of the neck). This form of chiropractic focuses on fixing the primary condition instead of focusing on symptom management. They will use specific x-ray analysis to determine the exact shift at this sensitive area located by the brain stem. They will then use a precise, yet gentle correction to this vital area of your body, restoring normal spinal motion and optimizing nerve system function.
Soft Tissue Treatments for a Whiplash Injury
Also, your chiropractor may treat injured soft tissues with manual therapy. Forms of manual therapies that may be used for the treatment of injured soft tissues include:
·Therapeutic Massage.Reduces tension and muscle spasms in the neck and back muscles. This can include stretching and manual joint resistance techniques.
·The Graston Technique®. This instrument-assisted technique is used to treat injuries to the soft tissues. Your chiropractor will stroke the injured area gently with an instrument.
·Trigger Point Therapy.Your chiropractor will apply direct finger pressure on specific points to identify the area of pain. Trigger points are painful, tense areas that are found in muscles.
· Interferential Electrical Stimulation.Your chiropractor will use electrical currents (at low frequencies) to stimulate your muscles. This reduces inflammation and promotes healing of the soft tissues.
· Ultrasound Therapy.Your chiropractor can use ultrasound to increase blood circulation. This helps to decrease stiffness, pain, and spasms in the muscles of your neck. Ultrasound sends sound waves into your muscle tissues. This creates some heat that stimulates circulation and promotes healing.
The majority of chiropractors take the traditional approach and do a great job at it. However, this type of care falls under the category of symptom relief or symptom management, otherwise known as “band-aid” care.
Experience the Foundational Difference
Here at Foundation Chiropractic — Lutz, we focus on Foundational Correction of the spine by utilizing specific upper cervical chiropractic care. We analyze and correct the primary condition of your complaints — not just focusing on treating the secondary conditions (symptoms). Every individual is different and their specific type of care will be unique and tailored-made based on their Comprehensive Foundational Examination finings.
At Foundation Chiropractic — Lutz, we understand that prevention is key to good health. So, while taking care of you, we will also prescribe corrective exercises that will help to restore your spine’s normal position, reduce the secondary complaints of whiplash, and help support the foundational corrections.