Whiplash is an injury to the neck muscles from rapid forward and backward movement of the neck caused by a trauma (eg, an automobile accident). It can cause acute (short term) neck pain together with restricted movement in your neck.
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Diagnosing a Whiplash Injury
Your spine is evaluated by the chiropractor as a whole— even if you proceed to the chiropractor complaining of neck pain following an injury. She or he will examine the complete spine because other areas of the spine could be affected (not only your neck).
The chiropractor identifies any areas of intervertebral disc injury, restricted joint movement, muscle spasm, and ligament injury. She or he may use a technique called movement and static palpation—diagnostic techniques that involve contact. Your chiropractor may also feel for tenderness, tightness, and just how well your spinal joints move.
She or he will even examine the way you walk, and take note of your posture and spinal alignment. These details will assist your back works, helping with the diagnosis process and the chiropractor understand the body’s mechanisms.
Along with the chiropractor’s assessment of your spine, he/she may order an x-ray or an MRI of your spine to evaluate any degenerative changes that may have existed before your whiplash injury. The diagnostic images and results of your neurological and physical assessment are compared to develop the best treatment plan.
Stages of Whiplash Treatment
Shortly after whiplash occurs—in the acute phase—the chiropractor will work on reducing neck inflammation using various therapy modalities (eg, ultrasound). He/she might also use gentle stretching and manual treatment techniques (eg, muscle energy therapy, a kind of extending).
The chiropractor may also recommend you apply an ice pack on your neck and/or a light neck support to make use of for a short span of time. The pain falls and also as your neck becomes inflamed, your chiropractor will perform gentle spinal manipulation or other methods to restore normal movement to the your neck’s spinal joints.
Chiropractic Care for Whiplash
Your treatment plan rides on the severity of your whiplash injury. The chiropractic technique that is most common is spinal manipulation. Some spinal manipulation techniques normally used are:
Flexion-distraction technique: This hands-on technique is a mild, non-thrusting type of spinal manipulation to help treat herniated discs with or without. Your whiplash injury may have aggravated a bulging or herniated disc. The chiropractor runs on the slow pumping action on the disk in place of direct force to the back.
Instrument-assisted manipulation: This technique is another non-throwing technique chiropractors often use. Using a specialized handheld instrument, force is applied by the chiropractor without thrusting into the backbone. This type of exploitation is useful for older patients that have a degenerative joint syndrome.
Unique spinal manipulation: The chiropractor identifies spinal joints which can be restricted or show unusual movement (called subluxations). Applying this technique, he or she will help restore movement to the joint using a gentle technique that is thrusting. This thrusting that is mild stretches soft tissue and stimulates the nervous system to restore normal movement to the spinal column.
In addition to spinal manipulation, the chiropractor could also use manual treatment to treat injured soft tissues (eg, ligaments and muscles). Some instances of manual therapies your chiropractor may use are:
Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy: Your chiropractor may use the Graston technique, which is an instrument-assisted technique used to treat soft tissues that are injured. She or he will perform gentle continued blows utilizing the instrument over the injured area.
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques: A good example of a manual therapy that is joint is muscle energy therapy.
Therapeutic massage: The chiropractor may perform remedial massage to relieve muscle tension.
Trigger point therapy: Your chiropractor will identify particular hypertonic (tight), agonizing points of a muscle by getting direct pressure (using her or his fingers) on these specific points to relieve muscle tension.
Your chiropractor may also use other treatments to reduce neck inflammation caused by whiplash. Examples of other treatments your chiropractor may use are:
Interferential electrical stimulation: This technique uses a low frequency electric current to simply help stimulate muscles, which may finally reduce inflammation.
Ultrasound: By raising blood circulation, ultrasound can help decrease muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain in your neck. Ultrasound does this by sending sound waves deep into muscle tissues. This creates a mild heat that increases circulation.
Treating Whiplash with Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors look at the full individual—not just the distressing difficulty. They view neck pain as unique to every patient, so they really don’t just focus on your neck pain. They highlight prevention as the key to long term health. In addition to these treatments, your chiropractor might also prescribe healing exercises to greatly help restore normal motion in your spine and reduce whiplash symptoms.
Using these chiropractic techniques, a chiropractor will help you increase your daily activities. She or he will work challenging to address any mechanical (how the back moves) or neurological (nerve-related) causes of your whiplash.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Neck Pain and Auto Injury
After being involved in an automobile accident, the sheer force of the impact can often cause whiplash, a common type of neck injury resulting from the sudden, back-and-forth motion of the head against the body due to a car wreck, or other incident. Because of this, many of the complex structures found within the neck, including the spine, ligaments and muscles, can be stretched beyond their normal range, causing injury and painful symptoms.
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The information herein on "Chiropractic for Whiplash Associated Disorders" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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