Should You Use a Chiropractor for Whiplash?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 more than six million motor vehicle collisions occurred. And of those six million accidents, more than two million of the people involved were seriously injured or disabled as the result of it. Whiplash is a type of injury that is due to the neck being jolted around very quickly, resulting in misaligned cervical (neck) vertebrae, torn ligaments injured discs and even fractures of the bones. Whiplash can also result in injury to the brain leading to concussion symptoms. Many people are under the impression that in order to get injured form a whiplash, they have to be in a pretty serious accident, but truly, it only takes speeds from 5-10 miles per hour to induce whiplash and result in injury to the tissues. Think about it this way, if the accident put dents in your vehicle, don’t you think that it may have had detrimental effects on your spine? Unfortunately most people in Boise and the Treasure Valley think that because they weren’t bleeding or had broken bones, that they are fine. This isn’t the case and many people with injuries from whiplash can experience permanent damage, long-term health problems and even complete disability, if the neck isn’t treated properly.
Many symptoms commonly associated with whiplash injuries include neck and shoulder pain, headaches, numbness and tingling into the arms, dizziness, blurred vision and in some cases depression. Symptoms may develop almost immediately following the injury, but they can take a few days or weeks to show up. You should not wait to seek medical or chiropractic treatment until pain arrives, but be proactive and seek care almost immediately following the accident. Back in the day, we thought that rest and relaxation would be good to help heal whiplash, but recent research published in 2015 shows the exact opposite. They found that keeping your neck moving and continuing basic activities of your daily life is in fact better for it. Others have found that being stagnant could make matters worse and prolong the healing process.
So what do you do if you are involved in a car accident and you aren’t sure if you have suffered injuries from whiplash? Get to a chiropractor that is knowledgeable with whiplash mechanisms of injury. Upon arrival, a detailed history and consultation will precede a thorough examination. A good history is vital in determining the extent of injury and severity of possible condition. A thorough examination may include range of motion, visually and/or with computerized surface electromyography to determine muscle guarding and function. A series of orthopedic and neurologic testing can also be done to determine current condition. Following examination, x-ray analysis should always be done to check for alignment of the spine, ligamentous instability and to rule out fracture or other serious conditions. Biomechanical studies have shown that the stability of the cervical curve is compromised following whiplash and create “S-shaped” abnormal curvature of the spine. This is typically due to whiplash and soft tissue damage that occurs. Left uncorrected it can lead to chronic pain and spinal degeneration.
Following examination, a review of findings will occur to explain the severity of the condition and the best treatment plan to help that person on the road to recovery from their whiplash injuries. Treatment may include chiropractic adjustments to help restore alignment and range of motion, specific exercises to strengthen damaged muscles and heal injured ligaments, a combination of ice and heat, and potentially even traction, to help alleviate pressure on the joints and discs of the spine and restore curvature of the cervical spine to normal. Treatment of whiplash is very safe and gentle and can help speed up the healing time, but that is dependent on the knowledge and precision of the trained chiropractor. Once symptoms have resolved, it is important to remember that the problem is not entirely fixed. Weaning off a treatment program is very important in monitoring the patient and letting their body properly stabilize post-correction. Otherwise, symptoms may return and permanent resolution of problem may not happen.
If you have been in a car accident (or other accident), contact the doctors at Modern Chiropractic Center for a complimentary consultation to see if you may have suffered an injury due to whiplash. Even if you believe that your car accident was ‘minor’, it is very important for your long-term spinal health to make sure your spine is uninjured. Call the office at 208-629-1904 to get scheduled!