Whiplash Injuries and How to Treat Them
You're stopped at a stoplight when suddenly, someone crashes into you from behind. You go a while without feeling any pain. After a few hours, the neck stiffness and pain sets in.
If you start experiencing fatigue, dizziness, arm pain, or a headache at the base of your skull, it's time to go to a doctor. It doesn't take much force to cause whiplash.
Most people experience whiplash injuries after a car accident, but it can happen if you fall off a bike or get hurt while playing a high-impact sport. Depending on the severity of your issue, you may need some help.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when someone's head gets jerked backward and forward in a forceful and sudden motion. Again, most of the time, this happens after a car crash, but you can get whiplash from riding a fast roller coaster ride.
Even though that person that hit you wasn’t going that fast, in fact, it is generally accepted in the medical community that whiplash can occur at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour. You may experience immediate pain or no pain at all for a few days. Even though the pain may subside shortly it does not mean that you did not sustain an injury to your neck. The only way to definitively know weather or not you sustained an injury is with an x-ray or MRI.
It is not uncommon to experience pain following a motor vehicle crash to last for a few months. You may notice that you have a limited range of motion, headaches, nausea, vision problems, or pain or numbness in your arms and hands. If you have symptoms in your shoulders, arms, or hands, it’s time to seek out help immediately.
When you see a chiropractor for neck pain, one of the first things we do is perform an evaluation of your entire spine. This is done by checking posture, range of motion, neurological testing, orthopedic testing, and x-rays. From there, they can create a care plan based on the areas of your spine that need the most work.
One of our first goals is to re-establish your range of motion or mobility 1st. Mobility is a vital part of the healing process. Motion helps heal the damaged tissue more quickly, reduces inflammation, and decreases pain. Time is of the essence because we are working against the clock to stop any scar tissue formation that could lead to a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
If you're injury is severe enough, there's a chance that your whiplash injury caused a herniated or bulging disc. Your chiropractor will use a combination of spinal adjusting, spinal exercises, trigger point therapy and other tools (like a home traction unit) to speed up the healing process. Of all these the spinal adjustment is the most important.
Chiropractor care is a lot more effective, and the healing process works much faster if you do some things at home as well.
Ice should be used initially in the 1st few days to keep the swelling under control. Ice should not be put directly on the skin. I tell my practice members to use a t-shirt and not a towel to separate ice pack from your skin. A towel is just too thick for cold to penetrate effectively. Icing should be done for at least 20 minutes with an hour break in between. Icing longer than 20 minutes could lead to increased swelling.
We also recommend that you begin active range of motion exercises ASAP. Movement helps reduce swelling and decrease pain.
If you choose to take medication for pain relief, please remember that even though the drugs may help reduce pain, you are still injured. Refrain from any challenging physical actives!
A soft foam collar is often given by a hospital ER following a whiplash injury. Its ok to use for a VERY short period to keep you comfortable when upright., However it will impede your recovery if you continue to use it longer than a few days.
When done by a licensed professional, this practice can be quite soothing and safe.
While acupuncture won't solve whiplash on its own, it can reduce some of the pain symptoms and help speed the healing process. This will make it much easier to do the exercises suggested by your chiropractor. And it’s drug free!
When a practice member comes to our office after going to the hospital almost everyone has a prescription for muscle relaxants and pain medication. Although they may make you feel better, they do nothing to help correct the injury! Physical problems like whiplash require physical solutions to help correct them.
Getting Treatment for Whiplash Injuries
Even if you only have mild pain following the crash, it is important to be examined and have an x-ray taken. An x-ray or MRI is the only way to know if you have indeed been injured. For mild cases, you may be able to treat your symptoms at home with ice and rest. In more severe circumstances, the pain won't subside without intervention.
Chiropractic adjustments work wonders for whiplash injuries! Chiropractic care combined with a home care regiment such as yoga-based mobility exercises, stretching, and posture exercises we’ll have you back to your normal self in no time. If you have any questions or would like to set an appointment with us and begin care, visit our new patients page.
Dr. Craig Kaler