Chiropractic Care for Whiplash
Updated: Jul 27
Whiplash is a form of neck injury commonly associated with traffic accidents or other physical traumas. And since America is unfortunately among the countries with the highest rate of motor vehicle accidents–there is no shortage of whiplash sufferers here.
While exercise and medications can help some people recover from whiplash in 2-3 weeks–Some patients experience chronic pain or other symptoms for prolonged periods. And in my office, chiropractic care has been really helpful in treating some of these symptoms.
There are many reasons why chiropractic has been effective in healing whiplash pain. But before getting into that, here are some basic points you might need to know. What is whiplash? What are its causes and symptoms? Here’s the idea-
Overview of the injury
In simple words, whiplash is very much like the cracking of a whip. It is a neck injury caused when your neck gets abruptly thrust forwards and then backward–or vice versa. Imagine sitting in a car with your seatbelt on. The brakes get slammed suddenly–and your head gets thrust forward and backward with force–causing injury. Although it is one of the most common causes behind this injury, motor vehicle accidents are not the sole reason behind whiplash. Sports injuries, physical abuse, or other kinds of trauma can also lead to this injury. The whiplash “motion” may injure the neck, spinal discs, muscles, or other tissues around the neck.
The symptoms of whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash are usually delayed–for about 24 hours after the initial impact. People dealing with whiplash may experience some of these symptoms within the first couple of days after the injury-
Neck pain or stiffness
Low back pain
Reduced range of motion in the neck
Headaches or dizziness
Lack of sleep
Fatigue and difficulty concentrating
If you have been experiencing one or more of these symptoms after an injury–I advise you get a check-up as early as possible. If there are fractures or other damage, it may worsen your symptoms.
Chiropractic therapy and adjustments have been successful in correcting the symptoms associated with whiplash. In my office, treatment will involve a complete evaluation of the spine–and identifying any areas of disc injury, ligament injury, or restricted motion. With early intervention, chiropractic care can help reduce pain, headaches, improve the muscle tone, and speed up recovery.
What we see in our clinic when a patient has whiplash.
We assess the cervical spine in flexion and extension to determine if a patient has whiplash. If in any of those views, we see a vertebra out of position, away from being stacked, and stepping like vertebrates–it indicates the patient has had whiplash.
In the x-rays I assess the movement of the bones, which will indicate ligament damage due to the high velocity forward and backward motion of the neck.
Please look at images below and the arrows indicate ligament damage due to whiplash.
Image: Male, Age: 42, Auto-accident in 11/2021, Rear-ended
Although the treatment plan will depend on the severity of your injury–these are the techniques I commonly use under whiplash treatment-
Spinal decompression therapy
Spinal decompression therapy can be particularly helpful for patients dealing with chronic neck pain or bulging discs in the cervical spine. This traction procedure helps reduce pressure on the discs between the vertebrae–and may also strengthen the muscles around the affected area. In my office, spinal decompression therapy has been really effective in easing the pain and helping the discs recover after whiplash injuries.
Gentle spinal manipulation
A chiropractor can identify the misaligned neck joints and gently move them to the correct position. Depending on the condition and preferences of my patients, I usually perform gentle, swift thrusts in the correct direction–or slow, mobilizing movement to achieve the desired result.
Gentle stretches to the tense muscles are a common treatment for muscle dysfunction and soft tissue injuries caused by whiplash. I usually apply “firmer” stretches if the muscles are too tight. Gentle finger pressure techniques have also proven useful in easing the pain and relaxing tight muscles.
For the patients who are not keen on “hands-on” therapies, instrument adjustments have been the perfect alternative. Using specialized chiropractic tools, I can apply gentle force to the spine without thrusting into it. Gentle, repeated strokes around the injured areas have often helped treat the damaged soft tissues.
Some lifestyle suggestions
There are always some changes you can make to your everyday routine to reduce strain on your body. The activities you perform at home or work may aggravate the problems caused by whiplash–if you are not careful. Certain posture corrections and exercises may prove useful here. In my office, I will walk you through some ways for you to take better care of yourself.
Are you experiencing whiplash pain? Please do not wait to get it diagnosed. At Lotus Chiropractic Care, Dr. Tanvi Desai can identify the root of the problem and pick the ideal treatment plan for your condition. And remember–Chiropractic care can be your door to holistic wellness. Because you deserve to live your best life!