One of the most common injuries received from auto accidents is whiplash. This occurs when the neck is jerked forwards and backwards in a violent whip-like movement beyond its normal range of motion resulting in joint, nerve, ligament and muscle injury and possible disc dislocation. Recovery from this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, though it is common for chronic issues to persist for years.
Symptoms of whiplash injury often include pain, stiffness, inability to contract and relax the neck muscles, headache at the base of skull, ringing in the ears, dizziness, fatigue, inability to concentrate and sleep disturbance. Often, due to the complex nature of whiplash injury, onset of symptoms may even be delayed for weeks or months. Issues may even arise in areas such as pain in the low or mid back, or radiating pai
n and numbness in the shoulders and arms. Using over the counter pain relief and ice are common at home treatments. If you require a visit to the emergency room stronger pain meds and possibly muscle relaxants may be prescribed.
A chiropractic visit after the first 24 to 48 hours of your whiplash injury will get you on the road to long term recovery. Care will be based on your evaluation exam. It will most likely include three modes treatment: manipulation, muscle relaxation or stimulation and specific exercises.
This is the primary treatment form. With manipulation the chiropractor uses techniques to move the neck in the motion of restriction. Manipulation will help restore mobility, reduce pain and muscle tightness, and increase tissue healing. This typically does not cause discomfort, but may result in some residual soreness for a few days following treatment.
2. Muscle relaxation or stimulation
This will help the muscles heal and return to normal function. It can be accomplished by different methods. Relaxation and stimulation of the muscles may be done with devices such as ultrasound or electrotherapy, with heat and ice, or with manual work to various muscles including massage and contraction-relaxation techniques.
Exercise is an important step in the healing process. It brings back normal range of motion through strengthening and lengthening the muscles and retrains the body to correct movement patterns over time. The chiropractor will choose certain exercises based on your particular injury patterns. You will begin doing them in office, but eventually will be given work to do at home. This is an important step towards long term recovery.
Whiplash injuries are complex and require a multifaceted treatment approach. Early and prompt treatment upon diagnosis is best for long term outcomes. If you feel you may be suffering from whiplash symptoms please call us for an evaluation at (781) 961-4460.