The Washington Traffic Safety Commission estimates that a car accident happens every 5 minutes, with many of these occurring in Seattle. Not all of these accidents result in whiplash, but many do. While car accidents are the most common way that whiplash happens, any sudden blow that forces your head to jerk backward and forward quickly, can result in whiplash.
What is Whiplash?
The sudden and forceful jerking of the head forward and then backward causes the neck muscles to strain. It can cause tearing of tendons and the muscles in the neck, which is a more severe form of whiplash. The result is pain, muscles spasms, the inability to move your neck, headaches, and often difficult to keep your neck straight without discomfort. Moreover, sleeping can be greatly disturbed due to continually waking from pain.
Following the whiplash incident, inflammation and swelling may occur. Chiropractors can treat both pain and inflammation without the use of harsh nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAIDs. These medications do help with inflammation and pain, but they can cause stomach irritation, and long-term use can lead to bleeding ulcers and other stomach ailments.
How Does Chiropractic Treat Whiplash?
For many years chiropractors were best known for handling whiplash cases. Receiving whiplash chiropractic care is gentle, effective, and drug-free.
The first step in treating whiplash is to stabilize the neck muscles by using a cervical collar. It helps the muscles relax because you’re not trying to keep your neck straight. It also helps to lessen further damage.
Your chiropractor will do a thorough exam, make notes of exactly what happened, where the pain is, and when the accident occurred. Next, he or she will order x-rays and possibly a CT Scan if it is deemed necessary.
Since all whiplash cases are not the same, your chiropractor will create a treatment plan to best serve your needs. Some cases are mild and others may be more severe, so the correct treatment is vital to your recovery. The main goal initially is to reduce your pain and discomfort.
If your spine is out of alignment in your neck due to the whiplash, gentle chiropractic manipulation is key to recovering. This also helps prevent further inflammation because it allows the blood to flow freer in the neck. Other treatment options your chiropractor may implement is trigger point therapy to loosen tight neck muscles, which in turn decrease spasms.
Home care normally includes alternating with ice and heat to keep the swelling and pain at bay. Gentle stretching exercises may be recommended to keep the muscles loose to prevent tightening that can lead to headaches. Wearing a soft neck brace is also helpful, as is allows the tendons and muscles in your neck to heal, and restricts your head and neck from sudden movement.
Timeline for Care Of Whiplash
Whiplash chiropractic care timeline depends on the severity of the injuries to the muscles and tendons. Torn tendons generally take longer to heal. Your chiropractor will want to see you a few times a week until your neck is stable. As the pain begins to subside, your treatments will be less. Full recovery can take one to several months, so patience is important. Whiplash can be complicated, so it’s important not only to see your chiropractor for in-office treatments, but to follow his or her home care instructions.
Examples of Whiplash Recovering Using Chiropractic Care
Accidents can happen to anyone, including celebrities and athletes. Many have turned to the natural and drug-free option of chiropractic care. For example, Cindy Crawford goes to her chiropractor regularly for check-ups, and to keep her spine flexible and free of pain. Other celebrities that have been under chiropractic care include, Cher, Madonna, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many athletes seek out chiropractors because sports can be very hard on the body.
Whiplash occurs suddenly and without warning. Many people do not realize they have whiplash following an accident because they may not feel pain until the next day. If you’ve been involved in an automobile accident and you begin to experience neck pain or headaches, you may have whiplash. The only way to know for sure is to visit a chiropractor and let him or her examine you and perform imaging tests to see if there is damage to the tendons, muscles, or soft tissue.