What is Whiplash? How Can A Chiropractor Help?
Whiplash is a fairly common injury that occurs when the head and neck are suddenly jolted into a back and forth motion. Injury can occur to the bone structure, muscles and soft tissues of the neck and shoulders.
Needless to say, when this type of injury occurs, it can cause an array of physical issues. Our Vancouver chiropractors have treated several patients who have experienced whiplash. Let’s get a better understanding of whiplash, how a chiropractor can help and what you can do at home to provide some relief.
How is Whiplash Caused?
When the head and neck experience a sudden jolting that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth unrestrained, this motion can cause whiplash. This most commonly occurs in car accidents where the victim’s car is hit from the side or from behind.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
The symptoms of whiplash can creep up on a person. Most patients report that symptoms do not appear until hours or days after the accident. When they do begin, they can include the following;
NECK PAIN AND TIGHTNESS
TENDERNESS IN NECK AND SHOULDER
TINGLING IN ARMS AND HANDS
OTHER SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH
Other symptoms of Whiplash can include:
- A concussion
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased range of motion of the neck
If you experience any of the above symptoms after an injury involving your neck, call one of our Vancouver chiropractors as soon as you are able to and we’ll provide a free assessment of your situation.
How is Whiplash Diagnosed?
Often, a mild case of whiplash can simply be diagnosed based on the descriptions of the accident and symptoms the patient reports. However, in more severe cases where the patient reports dizziness, confusion, nausea or loss of consciousness along with severe neck and shoulder pain, a doctor or chiropractor will refer for diagnostic tests such as X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI scan etc.
How is Whiplash Treated?
Most cases of whiplash will heal in time. There are also a variety of treatments available to help speed up healing which include chiropractic treatments and at home exercises and stretches to help alleviate symptoms and work towards healing. We discuss both the at-home treatments and chiropractic treatments in the next sections.
At Home Treatments for whiplash
The following treatments can be applied at home to reduce the symptoms of whiplash. Please consult one of our chiropractors first before performing any at home treatments.
Rest is only recommended for a short period of time after suffering from whiplash. Those that are mildly active while recovering from whiplash will typically get better at a faster rate than those who just simply rest.
HEAT AND ICE
Although it hasn’t been proven that either heat or ice helps with the whiplash healing process, many patients find relief from using a heating pad, an ice pad or a combination of both.
Only after visiting one of our chiropractors should you attempt to perform stretching exercises. After proper evaluation by one of our chiropractors, we may provide you with a series of at home stretching exercises to help with the healing process.
chiropractic treatment and massage for whiplash
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, our Vancouver chiropractors have seen many patients who have suffered whiplash. We offer a variety of evidence-based treatments that are extremely effective at reducing the symptoms of whiplash. Our general approach is to not only address your current pain issues but to also prevent future chronic pain that results from a whiplash injury.
The following are some of the treatments offered at our chiropractic clinic:
Spinal Manipulation/Chiropractic Adjustment
This treatment involves moving the affected joint towards the area where restriction of movement is occurring. This movement can involve a short thrust or a slow mobilizing movement. This and all treatment occurs only after a thorough and specific examination for Whiplash Associated Disorder.
Muscle Relaxation and Stimulation
Whiplash can cause muscle dysfunction throughout the neck, shoulders and back. The primary goal of muscle relaxation and stimulation is to deliver gentle stretching to the muscles that have excessive tension.
Our Registered Massage Therapists can provide you with a variety of massage techniques to help alleviate your pain and loosen up the tight tense muscles that occur with whiplash. In particular, Cranial Sacral Therapy provides excellent relief to our patients. It’s a gentle yet highly effective type of massage that will address your pain and as a result, make the rest of your body feel better. It is important to note that Massage should only occur after 7-10 of the incident/accident as there may still be acute swelling.
As part of a chiropractic whiplash treatment plan, we will give you advice and instructions for how to ensure that you are practicing proper ergonomics both at home and in the workplace. This will help reduce stress and strain on the areas of your body that have been effected by whiplash.
Stress reduction is a big part of any healing process. At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we can teach you a series of stress reduction exercises that will not only help you heal from your whiplash, but will also help you in your everyday life.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Movement and postural exercises are vital to ensuring patients recover quickly from whiplash. These exercises will help reduce stiffness and help to maintain and improve ROM (range of motion).
Performing gentle stretching exercises can help to keep your muscles loose and will help prevent them from tightening and seizing up.
Maintaining good posture will also help hasten your recovery. Always sit up straight, ensure your seating, be it in the car or at your desk, is of adequate height, and that you have good lumbar support.
Physiotherapy combines a series of different types of treatments and exercises that could consist of the following:
- Dry needling
- Postural bracing
- Lumbar support
- Neutral stretching
As well, physiotherapy may combine some of the other at home and other treatments as listed above.
How Long Will Recovery From Whiplash Take?
Recovery times vary depending on how serious your injuries are, and how well you respond to therapy. Some patients benefit from any type of therapy, while others may need to use the process of elimination to find the treatment that works best for them. What a patient does in the first month of care can often determine how well the patient recovers.
The best thing you can do is allow your body to heal, and give it the time it needs. Do not return to your regular physical activities (including sporting activities) until you feel up to it. Otherwise you could re-injure your neck and back, or prolong the time it takes for a full recovery.
Whiplash is a fairly common injury that most often occurs during a motor vehicle accident. While in most cases it is not a serious or life threatening condition, it can be very painful. There are a variety of treatments available. If you are suffering from whiplash and seek a natural, drug-free treatment, give us a call at Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage.