More than half of Americans say they would visit a chiropractor if they suffered from back or neck pain.
Without a doubt, many people have felt its benefits and been relieved of pain and stress from chiropractic treatment.
On that same topic, many people suffer from whiplash every year. Whether it’s an automobile accident or a rollercoaster, the effects can be painful and even debilitating to everyday life.
If you’ve been curious about a whiplash chiropractor, we’ll take a look at what they do and how they help.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury a person may receive from the sudden an violent movement of the head going back and whipping forward.
More often than not, this happens during car accidents, but this could even be a result of sports injuries.
Basically, the sudden and forceful movement of your neck strains the muscles and tendons and can often cause them to tear. This usually results in a very acute pain and can even limit the range of motion of your head.
Ever just try to look at the person next to you and wince in pain? Yeah, it’s not fun.
Now, sometimes, whiplash isn’t that serious or it may resolve itself rather quickly. You may just be facing a day or two of slight neck pain and next thing you know, you’re good to go!
This isn’t always the case, though, and sometimes deeper issues hide under the surface.
Your spine is a delicate and complex piece of human machinery that is tightly connected with various vertebrae, discs, nerves, and more. Even if you start to feel better after a bit of time, there may be long-term issues lurking that you just aren’t quite feeling.
All in all, whiplash is common, but it’s a pain and anyone suffering from it knows the daily struggle.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Maybe you have some pain in your neck but you’re not sure if it’s actually whiplash.
Whiplash symptoms can vary in type and the level of pain, but generally, they include:
- Pain in neck
- Stiffness and loss of mobility in neck
- Blurred vision
- Pins and needles sensation in arms and/or hands
- Muscle spasms
It’s important to remember that if you specifically have suffered from a car accident, sports injury, etc. you may not feel these symptoms right away.
Whiplash symptoms can develop slowly over time.
What Is a Chiropractor?
For those who don’t know, a chiropractor is a healthcare professional who uses hands-on treatment for back and neck injuries.
While it can be more than this, the focus is on manipulating the spine or other parts of the skeletal structure so that it becomes more aligned.
The idea is that a properly aligned spine will encourage and boost the body’s natural healing and promote a broader range of motion.
A lot of people who have only just heard about it may ask themselves, “Should I go to a chiropractor?” The results often speak for themselves.
Chiropractic treatment can often help people achieve relief from acute pain and increased mobility from joints that are injured.
How Can a Whiplash Chiropractor Help?
If you’re wondering when to go to a chiropractor, if you suspect you’re suffering from whiplash, it’s a good time to consider it.
As we’ve covered already, whiplash injuries can range from short-term to long-term and serious issues.
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash can not only help you with pain relief, but it can also help give you an overall assessment of the health of your bones and joints.
What Will a Chiropractor Do?
If you’ve decided to seek out a whiplash chiropractor and are wondering what will happen, then we’ve got you covered.
First thing is first: your chiropractor will take your medical history. It’s important for any doctor to be able to assess your past.
They need to know what other injuries you may have sustained before or what other injuries may be currently troubling you. It’s important for a chiropractic doctor to know if you’re currently on any medication, as well.
Again, like most other medical professionals, it’s important for the chiropractor to identify the issue.
If you’ve come to them for whiplash symptoms, they’ll, of course, check your neck. They may examine your neck, feel your neck, put pressure on your neck, etc.
They’ll also examine your spine. Some of the pain you are feeling may be connected to other areas of your spine, which is why it’s important to examine it as a whole.
Another way a chiropractor may diagnose your injuries is by examining your posture and the way you walk. They may require you to walk the halls of their office.
While it may not always be necessary, a chiropractor may order an x-ray or MRI. This type of detailed imaging can help a chiropractor get a better idea of any issues to your bone structure that may have existed before the injury.
Finally, after all the paperwork and initial diagnosis, a whiplash chiropractor can engage in some treatment.
There are many different types of treatments. Some are newer and more experimental, while others are tried-and-true.
From the start, a chiropractor will be most interested in lessening the pain and reducing inflammation. This may require just some light stretching or general movements of your neck or back.
They may use ultrasound to warm the areas of the neck and back that are most painful. This is often used in physical therapy as a preliminary measure to relieve stress and pain and help with the process.
Spinal manipulation is one of the most common chiropractic techniques. It’s the “bread and butter,” so to speak.
Chiropractors will use quick thrusts to force joints (and some of the joints around them) past their normal range of movement.
Many people often hear an audible “pop!” when this happens. For some, this may actually be a bit off-putting. Some people like it and others don’t.
If you’re worried about the popping sound you may hear during spinal manipulation, don’t worry. It’s widely believed that the popping sound is due to gasses from joint fluids being released due to a sudden drop in pressure.
On the flip side, don’t worry if you don’t hear the popping sound when you go to the chiropractor. There is some research that suggests an audible popping sound is not necessarily a direct result of a proper adjustment.
All in all, the goal is for joints to be realigned if they are out of place, which reduces pain and restores the functions of the spine as a whole.
If you’re specifically seeking treatment for whiplash, the chiropractor certainly will be focusing on your neck.
While many spinal manipulations involve you laying on your stomach with the doctor putting pressure on your spine, it may be different for whiplash.
Often, patients will lay on their back instead while the chiropractor firmly holds the back of their head and neck. Then, as they slowly pull the patient’s head up away from the rest of the body they will quickly turn it to one side or the other.
This creates that audible popping sound again, which is why when people do it to themselves they often call it “neck cracking.”
Another treatment chiropractors can use is essentially spinal manipulation using a device called an activator.
It is a handheld device that delivers smaller amounts of force to the spine, targeting vertebrae and joints.
For older patients or those with acute pain wondering can chiropractors help, the use of an Activator Adjusting Instrument may be the small but effective touch you need.
Trigger Point Therapy
When there is a specifically painful and tight spot (sometimes called hypertonic), a chiropractor may use their finger or a small device to apply pressure.
The point of pressure is concentrated enough that they alleviate muscle tension.
Muscle stimulation is another chiropractic treatment that can be used for whiplash.
It can be used on its own if it’s determined that you should not (or don’t need to) undergo spinal manipulation. The two treatments can also be used side-by-side.
Muscle stimulation often involves something called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
This is an electrical device where nodes are placed on the patient’s back or neck on muscles where the pain is most occurring.
Mild electrical currents run from the system to the patches, which stimulate the muscles.
For anyone that’s gone through this process before, this is not like experiencing an electrical shock. And while the intensity of the current can usually be raised or lowered, it’s a rather pleasant experience for some people.
The whole process has often had great results for pain relief with people identifying the sensation from the current as strong but comfortable.
Exercising and Stretching
Exercising and stretching are also extremely beneficial for your continued recovery.
In fact, part of the treatment for whiplash will involve your chiropractor demonstrating a lot of the exercises and stretches you will need to do. You may even get them started in the office itself!
The stretches you may need to engage could be different based on the circumstances surrounding your pain. For example, if you were in a rear-end car accident, then there’s a good chance the ligaments on the front of your neck are damaged. If you were in a front-end collision, then you most likely damaged the ligaments on the back of your neck.
With neck tissue specifically, it’s important to stretch the muscles in the opposing direction of where the whiplash occurred.
So, if your neck whipped backward, you would want to focus on stretching your neck forward. And if your neck was forced forward, you would stretch your neck by going backward. You can use your hands to push your neck backward or forward further to strengthen the stretch.
Exercises may involve you sitting with proper posture and essentially stretching your neck toward the ceiling. With your hand against the side of your head, you will try to turn your cheek toward the hand without actually moving your neck.
This sort of resistance exercise can be good for building up muscle strength that has been damaged after a whiplash.
Important reminder: You may not begin stretching or exercising your neck directly after an injury. The first line of defense is relieving pain to allow your body to heal naturally.
From there, your chiropractor can help you with stretches and exercise routines that will help you in the long run and prevent further injuries.
Another critical way a whiplash chiropractor can help you is teaching you proper posture and showing you how to maintain proper posture.
This is important for your continued healing and preventing further neck or spinal injuries.
Further Advice and Treatment
If you’re wondering how can chiropractors help you with whiplash injuries, the answer lies beyond the doctor’s office, too.
One way many patients benefit from chiropractic treatment is the extensive knowledge they have access to.
Chiropractors have studied the musculoskeletal system for many years and are up to date on best practices, standards, and new research and treatments.
Often, this means that whiplash patients are able to go home with a better understanding of their injuries and how to approach them.
For example, chiropractic treatment does not necessarily negate traditional medicine. Treatment, such as spinal traction, may be used hand-in-hand with traditional medication.
But there are other factors that go into your healing process, as well, such as:
- A good diet
- Continued exercise
- Positive attitude
- Smoking cessation
- Reduction in alcohol
- Improving posture
There are many studies that show how many of these variables can affect your overall health and your body’s natural healing process.
Chiropractic treatment is all about allowing the body to heal itself naturally.
Improving your diet and attitude are two very viable ways to make this happen. Research has shown that your perception of the situation of your injuries can affect the quality and rate at which your body heals itself.
Seeking Help From a Whiplash Chiropractor
If you’re suffering from debilitating whiplash injuries, you know the struggle. It can be a constant pain or a subtle and lingering pain, and it may even tie into more than just the neck itself.
A whiplash chiropractor is perfect when seeking relief due to their extensive knowledge of the spinal structure and how to manipulate it for natural healing.
The benefits of seeking a chiropractor go beyond the office building itself.