Neck pain caused by a whiplash injury definitely warrants a visit to a chiropractic whiplash specialist that can provide non-surgical treatment and pain relief.
Whiplash is an injury to the neck muscles from a rapid forward and backward motion of the neck caused by trauma from a car accident, sports injury, slip and fall accident or even just turning one’s head but doing it with a fast whipping motion that causes the neck/spine muscles to become swollen and irritated. It can cause acute short-term neck pain and restricted movement.
How a Whiplash Injury Is Diagnosed
A chiropractor evaluates the spine in its entirety. If you go to a chiropractic clinic with neck pain following trauma. The chiropractor will examine the whole spine because the other areas of the spine could be affected and not just the neck region.
The chiropractor locates the areas where motion is restricted if there are any disc injuries, muscle spasms, and ligament injuries. They will first apply motion and static palpation diagnostic techniques where they feel and touch the various areas where the pain is present, as well as where there is no pain. A chiropractor will also feel for:
- How well the spinal joints move
They will also analyze the patient’s walk noting their posture and if there is possible spinal misalignment. This will help the chiropractor understand the patient’s body’s mechanics and what their spine is doing to compensate for the injury. This can mean:
- Leaning to one side
- Getting up in a very careful way so as to avoid pain
- Hunching over
- Only turning in one direction
In addition to the evaluation, they will also order an x-ray or an MRI to evaluate any deteriorating changes that could have existed before the whiplash injury. The images and physical and neurological evaluation results are compared to figure out and develop the best treatment plan.
Whiplash Treatment Stages
After a whiplash injury happens a chiropractor works to reduce neck inflammation with various therapies like:
- Light stretching
- Soft manual therapy techniques
They may also recommend applying an ice pack on the neck and light neck support for a short time. As the inflammation and pain decrease the chiropractor will begin applying gentle spinal manipulation along with other techniques to restore the normal motion to the neck’s facet joints.
Chiropractic Whiplash Injury Treatment
A treatment plan depends on the severity of the whiplash injury. Some manipulation techniques used are:
- Flexion-distraction technique
This is a gentle non-thrusting type of spinal manipulation that helps treat herniated discs. A whiplash injury can cause an aggravated bulging or herniated disc. If this happens a chiropractor uses a slow palm pump action on the disc rather than direct thrusting force.
- Instrument-assisted manipulation
This technique also non-thrusting utilizes a hand-held instrument. A chiropractor generates force without thrusting directly into the spine. This therapy is great for older patients who may have degenerative joint syndrome.
- Specific spinal manipulation
Spinal joints that are restricted or have abnormal motion are identified. Then the chiropractor restores motion to the joint with a gentle thrust. This stretches the soft tissue and stimulates the nervous system to bring back normal motion.
Along with these spinal therapies/techniques, a chiropractor also uses manual therapy to treat the soft tissues like the ligaments and muscles. Some examples of manual techniques are:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy is where a chiropractor uses an instrument/s like the Graston technique, that gently treats any injured soft tissues. They will gently apply the instrument along the injured area with repeated strokes.
- Manual joint stretching and resistance therapy is a form of manual therapy that uses the muscle’s own energy to create isometric contractions that help relax the muscles, and help lengthen the muscles.
- Therapeutic massage is where a chiropractor or physical therapist performs massage to ease and relax muscle tension in the neck.
- Trigger point therapy identifies specific tight painful points/areas of muscle by applying direct pressure with the hands or fingers on these points to alleviate the muscle tension.
- Interferential electrical stimulation This technique uses low-frequency electrical current to stimulate the muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Ultrasound increases blood circulation and helps reduce muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. This happens by sending sound waves deep into the muscle’s tissue which generates low heat and increases circulation.
- Therapeutic exercises to restore normal spinal motion and reduce whiplash symptoms.
Chiropractic medicine looks at the whole person and not just the symptoms. Neck pain is different for everyone, so chiropractors don’t just focus on the pain because the whiplash injury could have affected other areas that the patient doesn’t feel pain or anything.
But as the spine is a complex structure that works as a unit, a problem in one area can slowly or quickly start to create problems in other areas of the spine much like falling dominoes.
With these techniques, a chiropractor will help increase a patient’s daily activities back to normal as quickly as they can, depending on the severity of the injury. They will work as hard as they can to address any added spinal or nerve-related causes/injuries stemming from the original whiplash injury and treat them as well until normal movement is restored and there is no longer pain.
Remember that prevention is the key to optimal long-term health!
Our team has taken great pride in bringing our families and injured patients only clinically proved treatment protocols. By teaching complete holistic wellness as a lifestyle, we also change not only our patient’s lives but their families as well. We do this so that we may reach as many El Pasoans who need us, no matter the affordability issues.
Whiplash Neck Pain Chiropractic Rehab El Paso, TX
Often, people with whiplash don’t experience any effects until a day, or even two, after. The key is to stay ahead of the pain and take measures sooner rather than later to relieve it and keep it at bay. It also provides documentation should other issues arise, and you need the information for legal purposes.
If you are in an accident, especially if you get rear-ended, and experience whiplash, see a doctor that day – even if you don’t feel much pain. The sooner you visit a chiropractic clinic, the sooner you can begin treatment should a problem develop.