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Whiplash FAQs

Whiplash is a common injury, but unfortunately many people ignore minor whiplash pain, thinking it will eventually go away. Left untreated, whiplash can lead to severe chronic pain and even depression or anxiety. At the Backsmart Wellness Center we want to help prevent unnecessary pain by providing our patients with the information they need to make the best choices for their healthcare.

What exactly is whiplash?

Whiplash is essentially a strain or sprain to the soft tissues of the neck. It occurs when the neck experiences a sudden extension and flexion (back and forth) movement such as when a person is rear ended in an automobile. When the muscles and ligaments are over-stretched, or “whipped” around in an uncontrolled manner, they can become injured.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

The symptoms of whiplash don’t always present the same for every person. Pain in the upper back and neck are common, but are not the only symptoms. Other indicators include:

  • Dizziness

  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing

  • Shoulder pain

  • Headaches
  • Spasms in neck or back
  • Jaw pain

  • Fatigue
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Arm pain

  • Sleep disturbances

Severe whiplash may also affect vertebra, spinal nerves and ligaments.

I was in an accident months ago, but only recently started experiencing pain. Could it still be whiplash?

Yes, pain can develop immediately or months after the traumatic event. That’s one reason why it’s important to see a chiropractor or other health-care professional for a check-up if you’re involved in a car accident or other incident that involves over-stretching of the neck.

How is whiplash treated?

Only after proper diagnosis through physical examination and x-rays can an exact course of treatment be developed. Treatment for whiplash depends largely on the symptoms being experienced. Treatment options may include pain medication, range of motion exercises, and massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, and surgery or chiropractic adjustment. Immobilization—the use of cervical collar—is typically not helpful as it can cause decreased blood flow to damages tissue and lead to muscle atrophy.

How can chiropractic care help whiplash?

Our chiropractors will evaluate the health of your entire spine, not just one section. The exact course of treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. In the acute phase, reducing inflammation in the soft tissues of the neck is the first priority. Cryotherapy, ultrasound or gentle stretching may be applied.

As inflammation decreases, spinal manipulation, physical therapy, trigger point therapy and other modalities that can help restore normal motion to the neck joints and muscles will be used. Chiropractic care offers a non-invasive, drug-free way to not only decrease the pain of whiplash, but to treat the source of injury.

Please feel free to call our office if you have more questions about the symptoms or treatment of whiplash, If you’ve been in a car accident or other traumatic accident, don’t wait to have a thorough examination. Early treatment of an injury can prevent further pain and possible complications in the future.


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