A whiplash injury is a neck sprain or neck strain that occurs when your head moves backward and forward suddenly, with great force, and without warning.
Whiplash causes the soft tissues in your neck to extend beyond their normal range of motion.
Whiplash symptoms might not appear right away, so it’s important to pay attention to any physical changes for a few days following a traumatic accident.
It's also important to see a Nashville whiplash chiropractor after an accident.
Whiplash is typically a mild condition, but it can cause long-term pain and discomfort, especially if left untreated.
In the article below, we will discuss a little more about whiplash, including its most common causes.
Table of Contents
- What Causes Whiplash?
- The Common Symptoms of Whiplash
- Complications Due To Whiplash
- How Is Whiplash Treated
- How Chiropractors Treat Whiplash
- When To See A Doctor
What Causes Whiplash?
Whiplash is a common neck injury caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head, similar to the cracking of a whip.
Whiplash is most often caused by a car accident, and more specifically, a rear-end collision.
The rear impact of the collision causes the head and neck to be forced into a hyperextended position as the seat pushes the person's torso forward and the unrestrained head and neck fall backward.
After that, the head and neck recover and are thrown into a hyperflexed position.
Recent studies investigating these accidents using high-speed cameras and crash dummies have determined that after the rear impact, the bones in your lower neck are forced into a position of hyperextension while the bones in your upper neck area are in a hyperflexed position.
This causes an abnormal S-shape in your cervical spine after the rear impact, different from the normal motion.
This abnormal motion causes damage to the soft tissues like the ligaments, facet capsules, and muscles that hold the cervical vertebrae together.
Other causes of whiplash injuries include:
- Physical abuse
- Horseback riding
- Bungee jumping
- Sports injuries like hits in football or falling while skiing
- Cycling accidents
- Falls in which the head violently jerks backward
- Blows to the head with a heavy object
- Any high-impact activity where extreme acceleration-deceleration forces act on the cervical spine.
The Common Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms can vary widely. You may feel symptoms soon after you get hurt or days later. The vast collection of potential whiplash symptoms is sometimes referred to as whiplash-associated disorders or WAD.
Symptoms often include:
- Neck pain
- Chronic neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Neck stiffness and a limited range of motion
- Muscle spasms
- Headaches and migraines
- Memory issues
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
Complications Due To Whiplash
Some people with a neck strain due to whiplash can experience chronic pain and headaches for years after their accident.
Chiropractors can trace this pain to damage in the neck joints, discs, and ligaments.
Sometimes chronic pain following a whiplash injury typically has no medical explanation.
Fortunately, very few people have long-term complications from whiplash if they have it treated right away after their accident.
Recovery time from a whiplash injury can take a few days to several weeks to years if you don't seek immediate treatment.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
People with whiplash are pleased to find out that several at-home remedies can help with the symptoms of whiplash.
The best way to treat a whiplash injury is to reduce the pain and stiffness in the neck by healing the damaged soft tissues in the affected area.
Depending on the severity of the whiplash injury, it can take a few days or a few months for the symptoms to disappear completely even after receiving treatment.
It's hard to predict how neck injuries will heal, and some people experience neck pain and stiffness for a long time after the injury.
There are several home treatment options available to ease the symptoms of whiplash.
- Use an ice pack: As soon as possible after the injury, you should apply an ice pack to your neck for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Do this every 3-4 hours to help relieve swelling and pain.
- Try over-the-counter medications: Pain medications, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin can help reduce pain. But always check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. You should only take painkillers for a short period of time because their adverse side effects will sometimes outweigh their benefits.
- Use proper posture: Using proper posture is critical after a whiplash injury. Be sure to always keep your neck and back straight when sitting, standing, or walking to prevent stiffness. You can put back support on your chair while you are recovering from the injury. You want to stay active while recovering from whiplash and do some gentle neck and shoulder exercises. Avoid unnecessary strain on your neck.
If these home treatments aren't enough to alleviate neck pain or reduce stiffness, you should seek medical care.
How Chiropractors Treat Whiplash
By using several treatment techniques, chiropractors can help relieve pain and encourage healing in the affected areas.
After an in-depth physical exam and a review of your medical history, your chiropractor can perform the following treatments for your whiplash injury.
- Chiropractic Adjustment: A chiropractic adjustment or spinal manipulation uses short thrusts or slower movements to gently move the affected joint towards the restricted area. This helps restore mobility and encourage healing.
- Muscle Relaxation and Muscle Stimulation: Chiropractors can help relieve tension using gentle stretches to the affected muscles. The stretches can be combined with finger pressure techniques on certain pressure points to relieve pain.
- McKenzie Exercises: McKenzie exercises are used to reduce disc derangement caused by whiplash. Your chiropractor can perform these exercises on you in their office, and they can be taught so you can use them at home, giving you more control in the healing process.
When To See A Doctor
If you are dealing with chronic pain after a whiplash injury, it's important to see a chiropractor who can begin your treatment for whiplash right away.
Severe neck pain should be dealt with right away, so don't delay your treatment.
Whether you were in a car accident, suffered a sports injury, or were involved in any other traumatic accident, it's important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis so you can begin your road to recovery.
Advanced Injury Care has a team of skilled chiropractors ready to help you recover from your whiplash injury.
To schedule your Free Consultation with Advanced Injury Care, click the button below.