Whiplash Injuries: Symptoms and Treatment

The unfortunate reality of our mobile society is that there are fewer licensed drivers that have never been in an automobile accident. The more years of driving experience a person has, the more likely it is they have been involved in some sort of car accident. The U.S. Census Bureau last estimated that $10.2 million motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2008 alone. These accidents, ranging from minor fender benders to full-on collisions, are leading contributors to whiplash and concussions treated by chiropractors and physicians throughout the US. There is a rising number of bicyclists on the roadways, and whiplash caused by car accidents can be attributed to car-to-bicycle collisions.

Whiplash, car accident related or not, happens when the sudden change in the body’s velocity stretches the muscles and ligaments in the neck beyond normal range. It can occur to both motorists and cyclists involved in collisions. Anybody suffering from symptoms of whiplash should seek whiplash treatment from a chiropractor to help ease pain and stiffness and decrease risk of long-term damage.

To understand the importance of whiplash treatment, read on for information on its causes, symptoms and diagnosis.

Whiplash: The Causes

There are many different causes of whiplash. Car accident injuries are the most common, but sports injuries, bicycle crashes and other accidents can also result in similar neck pain and stiffness.

In an accident where a car is side-swiped, for example, the impact causes the body to fly to the side quickly, with the head following the body’s movements. Sudden stopping of the car flings the head to the other side, often resulting in the head hitting a window. This can leave the spine and soft tissues in the neck unstable, requiring a series of chiropractic appointments for whiplash treatment, or maybe even medical treatment for concussion.

Whiplash: The Symptoms

The majority of whiplash cases involve injuries to the soft tissue in the spine, rather than broken neck bones. The symptoms of soft tissue injuries can range from obvious to obscure. The more obvious symptoms include headaches, neck and/or shoulder pain, upper body stiffness, vertigo and pain in the jaw or face. Less obvious whiplash symptoms include ringing in the ears, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and blurred vision. Talk to a chiropractor immediately if experiencing any of these whiplash symptoms.

Whiplash: Diagnosing and Treatment

A qualified chiropractor will ask various questions to determine the extent of the neck injury before starting any whiplash treatment. These questions may include: why you think you have whiplash; car accident details, details about your injury, and the nature of your symptoms. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, X-rays, or a CT (computed tomography) scan combined with a myelogram may also be conducted if the injuries seem severe.

Treatment for whiplash can last from a few weeks to months, depending on the severity of the injuries. A chiropractor, physician or physical therapist may use a variety of techniques to help relieve the symptoms and improve overall spine health. These techniques may include one or a combination of: chiropractic adjustments, cold & heat therapy, massage, strength training or body mechanics training. Anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers may be prescribed if whiplash sufferers need additional pain relief.

It is important that whiplash treatment is sought immediately if one thinks they may be suffering from whiplash, car accident related or not. Bicycle accidents and sports injuries may not always seem like obvious causes of whiplash, but active cyclists should take the time to receive whiplash treatment if they think a neck injury has occurred. A chiropractor can develop a treatment plan suited for any type of neck or spine injury resulting in whiplash.