Ways To Manage and Treat Whiplash
There are many ways to handle and treat whiplash, which, according to studies, 5% of the U.S. population experience every year.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a severe neck sprain and usually manifests when a sudden stretch caused by extreme events such as a car crash injures the neck muscles. Common symptoms could be pain, stiffness of neck, shoulders and arms; dizziness, headaches, nausea, and having trouble swallowing food.
We should not take whiplash lightly and should instantly find a remedy to this injury. If you think you have the symptoms or are experiencing a whiplash, please see a chiropractor for immediate treatment. Forty-three percent of whiplash injuries, when left untreated, have resulted in perpetual symptoms, turning it into a chronic illness.
Tests and Diagnosis
To treat whiplash, either a medical doctor or a chiropractic physician should first diagnose it as one. Once you’ve told the doctor about the obvious symptoms for whiplash, he or she will be asking a series of questions that are related to your complaints. For example:
Were you involved in an accident?
When did the symptoms start?
On a scale of 1–10 where 10 is the highest and 1 is the lowest, how much in pain are you?
Where does it specifically hurt?
After this series of questions, the doctor will do a physical exam. The exam may consist of:
- Observing if your neck and posture is normal or showing deformities.
- Palpating to check your neck’s stiffness and discomfort.
- Checking your neck’s flexibility and movement.
- Checking your reflexes if the nerves to your biceps, triceps and forearm are in good condition.
- Determining if your shoulders, arms and hands have enough strength and muscle power.
- Check your tingling sensations if they are all in the right places. This also helps determine which neck backbone has the problem.
The doctor may also conduct other tests especially when there is an assumed fracture or neurological problem. These are called diagnostic imaging, and include X-ray, MRI, CT Scan, and Bone Scan. The X-rays helps identify fractures in the bones, the MRI checks for damages to soft tissues, the CT scan checks the spinal canal, and the Bone Scan— while is rarely used because of its radiation levels—can be very useful for checking microscopic fractures.
If any of these tests show results relevant to a whiplash, the chiropractor will give you the diagnosis and then it is time for treatment.
There are several ways to treat whiplash. In fact, there are stages of whiplash treatment depending on the severity of the condition. Here are several ways to manage whiplash, which may be taken singularly or in combination:
- Physical therapy helps relieve pain and stress in the spine and brings back the neck’s strength and mobility.
- Medications for pain relief, which can be OTC or prescription drugs.
- Spinal steroid injections reduces the inflammation of the tissues and nerves.
- Psychotherapy helps with post-traumatic stress or depression as a result of a whiplash injury.
- Acupuncture provides significant pain relief.
- Massage therapy soothes muscle tension and contractions and helps increase blood flow.
- Radio frequency neurotomy targets particular nerves that will help in blocking pain signals to the brain.
Chiropractic helps to treat whiplash. The Chiropractor may use any or a combination of these methods:
- Flexion-distraction technique helps fix cracked discs in the spine, relieves the pressure on the spinal nerves, and restores proper spinal motion.
Instrument-assisted manipulation helps improve the joints motion.
- Specific spinal manipulation helps the soft tissues’ elasticity, and stimulates the nervous system to bring it back to a normal state by a light pushing technique to the joint.
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy helps treat damaged soft tissues with repeated strokes over the damaged area.
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques help relax and lengthen muscles.
- Therapeutic massage helps relieve tension in the neck.
- Trigger point therapy presses the painful areas using the fingers to relieve muscle tension.
- Interferential electrical stimulation helps reduce the swelling by using low electrocution in the muscles.
- Ultrasound increases blood circulation that can help in stress and pain relief through sound waves.
It usually takes up to three months to recover from a whiplash. Some cases take a longer time to recover depending on the severity, and could end up as a chronic illness especially if left untended. Either way, whiplash can be overcome by using the techniques mentioned above.
On top of that, your doctor or chiropractor will require you to do some therapeutic exercises at home so both of you can meet halfway through the treatment. Make sure to oblige yourself in exercise because it will help avoid the injury in becoming permanent.
Chiropractic Care for Whiplash, Spine Universe; last accessed 3/5/2020
Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash, Spine Health; last accessed 3/5/2020
Prognosis following a second whiplash injury, International Journal of the Care of the Injured; last accessed 3/5/2020
Whiplash: More than Standard Neck Pain, American Chiropractic Association; last accessed 3/5/2020