Whiplash is one of the most common types of injuries sustained in a car accident. However, it can also occur after a slip, trip, or fall. It is also often overlooked since the symptoms of the condition often don’t appear immediately – sometimes not until hours or even days later. Nevertheless, the effects of whiplash can be significant if they are left untreated, potentially putting the patient at risk of long-term discomfort, mobility problems, and more.
What causes whiplash?
Whiplash is often the result of a rear-end collision in a car but can occur in any sort of vehicle accident. The sudden acceleration and deceleration force that is placed onto the body causes the neck and head to whip back and forth rapidly, putting the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other structures under abnormal strain and stretching them beyond their usual capabilities. The damage sustained can take weeks or even months to heal, and until this point, a patient can suffer a range of unpleasant symptoms, some of which can make it impossible to complete certain day to day functions.
Whiplash isn’t just an injury that requires professional care. It is also responsible for many missed days of work (sick days), lost productivity, and in some cases, temporary disability. Therefore, prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential so that the patient can make a swift recovery.
Signs and symptoms of whiplash
Whiplash is a hidden injury, and many patients will not realize that they have been affected until some time after their accident. The severity of your symptoms may vary depending on the force of the impact and how significantly you have been injured. Some of the most common signs of a whiplash injury include the following:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Difficulty moving your head, such as turning it from side to side or looking upwards or downwards
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain and muscle spasms in the shoulders and arms
- Pain and tenderness in the upper back
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
If you suspect that you may be suffering from whiplash because you are experiencing these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your chiropractor as soon as you can.
How chiropractic care can help with whiplash
A chiropractor is actually the best professional to see to help with whiplash injuries. This is because chiropractors are trained specifically to diagnose and treat conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. This system includes the bones, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, and other connective tissues that give our body structure and enable movement. Since the spinal column extends into the neck and is surrounded by such supporting tissues, this makes any injuries to the neck very much a problem associated with the musculoskeletal system.
Some of the most common types of damage that can occur to the body during a whiplash injury include:
- The muscles and ligaments supporting the spine can be overstretched or torn
- The discs between the vertebrae (bones of the spinal column) can bulge, rupture or tear
- Vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position
- The spinal cord and surrounding nerves can get stretched and irritated
When you first visit your chiropractor, they can assess your condition to confirm if you are affected by whiplash. From here they can recommend a plan of treatment. Exactly what this will involve will depend on the severity of your whiplash injury. In most instances, patients will undergo chiropractic manipulations.
What are chiropractic manipulations?
These are the type of chiropractic treatment that most people are familiar with and involve your chiropractor identifying spinal joints which are restricted before using a gentle thrusting movement to stretch the soft tissue and stimulate the nervous system. In doing so, the body releases natural pain-relieving endorphins as well as triggering the flow of oxygenated blood and nutrients to the site that needs healing, speeding up your recovery. This action also helps to reduce inflammation, which in turn also helps to reduce pain and improves patient mobility.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from whiplash, don’t hesitate to seek the help and support you need by speaking to our expert chiropractic team today.