If you’ve ever been in a car accident, especially one where another vehicle hit yours from behind, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced whiplash. It isn’t pleasant. Whiplash, a form of neck strain, is caused by a forceful back and forth jerking motion of the neck – which is why it’s so often experienced after a car wreck. If you’re experiencing the pain and strain of whiplash, chiropractic treatment may provide relief.
If you’re experiencing neck pain and restricted movement in your neck following an accident, notice your muscles feel hard or knotted, feel pain when rocking your head from side to side, or have been having headaches at the base of the skull that radiate toward your forehead, you may have a case of whiplash.
Your chiropractor will examine you before confirming whiplash. Even if it’s just your neck that’s bothering you, a chiropractor will likely examine your whole spine to make sure that there isn’t trauma anywhere else. He or she will probably feel for tenderness, tightness, and how well the joints in your spine respond. After evaluating the alignment of your spine, gait, and posture, it’s even possible your chiropractor will order an MRI or X-ray to check for degenerative disc issues. Once whiplash has been confirmed, your chiropractor will be able to determine a treatment plan that works for your specific injury.
Treatment for whiplash injuries varies depending on each patient, because chiropractors typically take a holistic approach when it comes to treating injured individuals. Some common treatment options are:
- Exercises – specifically called McKenzie exercises, along with stabilization and sensorimotor exercises are often recommended to help reduce pain and the disc derangement that can happen after a whiplash injury. These exercises are comprised of small, simple movements meant to help get your range of motion back and stabilize your neck. They are typically done in the office at first, then can be done at home after a few sessions at your chiropractor’s office.
- Suggestions on motion and lifestyle changes – It’s possible that after evaluating you, your chiropractor will recommend changes to the way you do things. This could be changes in the way you sit, reducing stress at work or in your life, purchasing a better mattress, buying new supportive shoes, or changing the way you move your hips when you walk can start a significant domino effect in improving your overall long-term health in a positive way.
- Prevention of chronic pain – It can be fairly common for people to experience long-term chronic pain following a whiplash diagnosis, especially if they don’t seek immediate intervention at the first sign of pain. Part of what your chiropractor will do is develop a plan to keep you healthy down the line. This plan will likely involve exercises and manipulations that must be done over time to prevent chronic neck pain.
Dr. Tho Le is a board-certified chiropractor who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold’s Spring Medical and Diagnostic Center, The Vintage Clinic, and The Woodlands Clinic. His clinical interests include musculoskeletal, neck, and back pain.