Whiplash can be defined as an injury caused to the neck, due to a rapid and forceful back-and-forth movement (like a whip).
This violent motion places significant strain on the upper spine and supporting muscles. This injury can cause the muscles and tendons to tear, causing pain, restricted movement and other symptoms that can worsen over time if they are left untreated.
In this article, we’ll dive into common causes for a whiplash injury. We’ll also review how chiropractic treatment can help treat whiplash symptoms.
Causes of Whiplash
Contrary to what many people believe, you don’t need to be in a very severe car accident to sustain a whiplash injury. Even small fender benders can generate enough force to whip your neck back-and-forth and cause damage.
Common causes of whiplash include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Contact sports
- Head injuries
Symptoms of Whiplash
Immediately after an incident, you may feel a bit sore but, overall, you might feel fine.
Beneath your muscles are your ligaments. Think of ligaments in your body as rubber bands that hold your skeleton together. If the rubber bands become compromised, your vertebrae are prone to shifting — where it can begin to put pressure on adjacent nerves or blood vessels.
Your muscles then pick up the slack, putting forth extra work to support your neck and protect your nerves. This can cause tightness and tension as the muscles are overworking. This is called the cervical capsular ligamentous-muscular reflex.
Over time, whiplash injuries can worsen if they are not properly managed early on.
Whiplash can present itself as more than a headache and neck pain. Some people who have sustained whiplash may experience ear ringing, dizziness, and brain fog.
Whiplash symptoms may present themselves days after the injury. These can include:
- Stiffness in the neck
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Pain in the neck
- Headaches and migraines
- Tingling and numbness in the arms
- Speech disturbances
- Poor balance
- Swallowing difficulties
- Facial pain
- Blurred vision
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor memory
- Ringing in the ears
- Ear pain
If you’ve recently been in a car accident, sustained a sports injury or experienced any other type of injury to your head and/or neck, you should immediately seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis.
Professionals can rule out any broken bones, concussions or other injuries that can worsen your whiplash and prolong healing.
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Can Help
Persistent neck pain resulting from a neck sprain can become a bigger issue.
A build-up of scar tissue due to contact-sports or multiple fender-benders can lead to more severe whiplash conditions. These might result in the neurological symptoms mentioned above.
As chiropractors, our job is to investigate deeper at the root of the trauma.
There are many different factors to consider when starting any movement rehabilitation plan — such as the individual’s lifestyle, the nature of the injury and symptoms presented. After a thorough diagnosis, we work with our patients to create a customized treatment plan for a speedy recovery.
Common therapies in cervical chiropractic care may include:
- Chiropractic adjustments: your therapist will gently manipulate the vertebrae to increase their range of motion and reduce nerve irritation.
- Trigger point therapy: trigger points or knots form as a result of muscle fibre trauma. Your therapist will apply direct pressure to these sensitive areas to release and soften the tension. This helps to alleviate pain and improves your range of motion.
- Instrument-assisted therapies: interferential electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and Graston technique fall under this category. Depending on your condition, evidence-based chiropractic technologies may be used to provide you with gentle, non-invasive treatments to reduce inflammation further, apply more precise pressure and increase blood circulation to the affected areas.
Book Your Appointment With Kilian Chiropractic
When a patient comes into our office who has suffered a neck injury, we’ll conduct a thorough evaluation of the movement in your neck with an X-ray to watch how the vertebrae in your neck move.
We don’t only treat the painful problem. Our job is to provide exceptional care to the patient. We’ll work with you to create a customized treatment plan that will optimize your healing, based on your unique injury and lifestyle.
With chiropractic care, we’ll help you increase your range of motion and autonomy. That way, you can get back to the activities you love safer and sooner.