Are you experiencing any neck pain from whiplash or from a recent car accident? Although it is common from an accident involving motor vehicles, whiplash can also occur in falls, sports injuries, work injuries or other injuries involving a quick sudden movement to the neck. Whiplash is described as a hyperextension-hyperflexion injury to your neck. It is caused by that whipping motion done to your neck during the sudden stop or from being jerked from the front (flexion) to the back (extension) very quickly.
Whiplash affects 2 out of 3 people involved in a motor vehicle accident, no matter how big the impact. Symptoms can be felt the day itself or sometimes can take 2-3 days to present. Whiplash causes neck pain, headaches and muscle stiffness. Symptoms also include dizziness, nausea or difficulty swallowing. In some cases, patients have also presented with upper back, chest, shoulder and arm pain. According to a study, 45-85 percent of whiplash patients suffer from these symptoms up to 5 years after their injury. Most of which have a reversal in their cervical spine’s natural lordotic curvature resulting in a straightening of their neck.
When a client has been through a car accident or a trauma and presents with neck pain, as a chiropractor I would assess the client’s entire spine. After establishing that there isn’t a fracture, it is then time to identify where the restriction is coming from. It could be from a muscle spasm, ligament injury, intervertebral disc swelling or a joint that is subluxated or restricted. If there is a suspicion of something more serious like a disc or nerve injury, an x-ray or MRI could be ordered so that we can have a better clinical impression and develop the best treatment plan possible.
Generally treatment of whiplash starts with trying to reduce inflammation of the neck (if any). This can be done with gentle stretching and light muscle work. If your neck isn’t undergoing inflammation, we can also trying manual adjustments and mobility to prevent further stiffness. This helps with joint mobility and gentle mobilization can help with increasing joint space. An ice pack is also recommended to help with reducing inflammation and seeing a physiotherapy for pain relief and other modalities could be recommended. In some cases a neck brace or usage of painkillers could be recommended for the beginning stages of recovery.
As whiplash can occur immediately or up to 5 years later, if you have had a neck injury recently or in the last 5 years it is best to have a consultation with one of our qualified chiropractors. This can lead you to an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that will help reduce pain and suffering for years to come.