TREATING WHIPLASH FROM AN ACCIDENT
TREATING WHIPLASH FROM AN ACCIDENT
DO YOU HAVE A WHIPLASH INJURY?
Even from a minor fender bender you may still receive a whiplash injury. Whiplash is a term used to describe the forceful extension and then flexion of the neck. When the neck is initially forced into extension this causes a stretching of the flexor muscles including the SCM and scalenes in the front of the neck, and a jamming of the facet joints at the back of the spine. When the head forcefully moves into flexion it causes a stretching and tearing of the extensors muscles, including the cervical extensors, traps, and sub occipital muscles, as well as the facet joint ligaments.
SIGNS OF WHIPLASH INJURY
It is not uncommon to feel little to no discomfort immediately following an accident as the body will release natural pain killers in the form of endorphins as well as the heightened adrenaline in the body. Once this wears off and the inflammation begins to set in is when the pain and restricted motion begins. In many cases, even minor accidents can cause symptoms of whiplash which can show up as late as 2-6 weeks post injury. The reason this can happen is because even in a minor accident there is still a stretching and tearing of tissue, so the body’s response is to lay scar tissue down in the area. After weeks of scar tissue deposition, this may lead to further symptoms, such as headaches, jaw pain, trigger points, and restricted range of motion. After many years the body begins to calcify this area and it becomes permanently dysfunctional. Degenerative joint disease or subluxation degeneration many time has its roots in these seemingly minor traumas.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE WHIPLASH?
The symptoms of whiplash are very noticeable once they set in. It causes muscle spasms in the front and back of the neck, as well as the shoulder area. It becomes difficult to rotate the neck and head. You may suffer from tightness of the jaw, neck swelling, and tenderness along the back and shoulder area or headaches. Those suffering from a particularly severe case of whiplash may notice some obstruction in their vision, ringing in the ears, and other signs of nerve disturbance.
WHAT CAN I DO TO CURE WHIPLASH?
The type of treatment really depends on how the neck was injured. Each unique injury typically requires a specialized approach to healing. One of the most productive ways to assist in managing whiplash is a visit to the chiropractor. We will assess the injury and develop a care plan for your specific injury. That may include cervical spine adjustments and soft tissue mobilization. We may also focus on relaxing the neck by gently massaging and stretching the neck muscles to relieve tightness.
TREATMENT FOR WHIPLASH
It is important after any type of whiplash injury to seek out your doctor to assess the level of damage, and develop a treatment plan which will not only relieve your temporary symptoms but also prevent further damage down the road. At Life Chiropractic, we see many residual or chronic problems that are due to improperly treated whiplash injuries. What Dr. Morgan most commonly sees in this instance, are injuries to the cervical intervertebral discs. After an accident the neck becomes very stiff as a self-protective mechanism to prevent further damage. The problem with this is if motion is not properly restored, the cervical spine no longer functions with optimal range of motion. This will speed up the degenerative process of the spine, and begin to wear down the disc spaces at a faster than normal rate. A disc injury in the neck can lead to very intense pain in the neck, shoulder, and arm. In many cases with a cervical disc injury a patient may only feel symptoms in the arm, such as numbness, radiating pain, weakness, or tingling. In the event a disc injury does occur it can still be treated with very positive results; however the natural treatment process of the disc takes time. Soft tissue healing occurs for many months after the injury. Most of the healing occurs in the 6-12 month time frame,
This is why we recommend seeking out professional help after the injury to properly assess the damage. If quickly and promptly addressed the treatment times can be much shorter and future issues can be avoided. If you have suffered a whiplash type injury, feel free to contact us and one of our whiplash specialists to see if this care is right for you.
- Spinal Adjustment For Whiplash. Cervical spinal adjustments, are used by chiropractors to restore or enhance the function of joints in the neck. These adjustments often reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and assist in the overall healing of whiplash. They also can restore function to the neck and shoulder areas and improve motion to the areas that are affected by the injury. The type of adjustment will vary from patient to patient and will depend on the type of injury. The cervical spinal adjustment is among one of the oldest and most utilized chiropractic techniques. An adjustment is a practice in which we apply a carefully guided movement to the vertebrae to reduce the pain and increase joint motion.
- Soft Tissue Work. Soft tissue mobilization is another common technique used to lessen the affects of whiplash. This technique is a type of manual therapy that stretches the soft tissues of the neck, such as ligaments and tendons, in order to relieve pain and restore proper range of motion. Some of the common types of soft tissue mobilizations techniques include manual techniques that apply firm pressure to relax and stretch the muscles. Massage is another technique which uses broad-handed motions to reduce joint stiffness and improve overall neck function. Stretching, neck-strengthening exercises, and other therapeutic techniques may used to heal whiplash.
It is very important to treat whiplash as soon as possible. We can provide you with your own personalized care plan and ensure that the pain stemming from whiplash is alleviated. By utilizing the above techniques, we will make you feel like your old self again. Please feel free to contact us.