How Chiropractic Can Help Whiplash/Car Accident
A special thanks to Dr. Eric Mayfield, a Minneapolis, MN Chiropractor, for providing this article.
Whiplash is an injury to the neck muscles, and it occurs when the head is rapidly moved back and forth. It is a common injury in car accidents. The injury causes acute pain and restricts the neck’s movement towards the direction of the cracked whip. Muscles and ligaments found in the neck region are stretched beyond the normal range. Soft tissues can also tear or sprain, resulting in pain and discomfort.
The majority of the complaints of whiplash are from car accidents. However, people can also get whiplash from sudden falls, amusement park rides, or even high-impact sports. Some of the common symptoms of whiplash are:
- Neck stiffness and pain
- Pain in the arms, upper back, and shoulders
- Challenges in concentrating
- Headaches, particularly the back of the head
- Extreme fatigue and dizziness.
This form of treatment entails identifying the neck joints sprained and positioning them back into their original place. It is done by gently moving the affected joint into its original position. Sometimes, the whiplash injury could have aggravated a bulging disc. In such instances, the chiropractor employs a slow pumping action on the herniated disc instead of direct force to the spinal cord.
Muscle relaxation as whiplash treatment
Muscle relaxation is the primary treatment used for muscle dysfunction. The treatment includes gentle stretches to the sprained muscles. For tight muscles, a physician applies a swift muscle stretch.
Specific trigger point therapy
In this treatment, the chiropractor identifies spinal joints with abnormal motion and restores the joint motion with a gentle thrusting technique. Painful muscle points can be identified by applying direct pressure using fingers on these points to ease muscle tension. It treats spinal joints and muscles, giving the patient pain relief.
Interferential electrical stimulation
In interferential electrical stimulation, currents with low-frequency are used, but they are painless. They stimulate the painful neck muscles to offer relief and reduce inflammation in the neck region. For a severe injury, therapeutic ultrasound can increase blood circulation, reduce muscle cramps and neck stiffness. It is done using sound waves that generate heat resulting in muscle relaxation.
Soft tissue therapies
These therapies are one of the treatment plans that chiropractors use to treat whiplash. The injury affects the soft tissues in the neck region, but chiropractors can restore muscle functioning by applying direct pressure to the tense muscles. In some cases, depending on the severity of the injury, muscle energy therapy and stretch and resist techniques may be applied.
This therapy involves using a hand-held device that the chiropractor uses to apply pressure without thrusting into the spine. There is also the Graston technique used to treat injured soft tissue. The chiropractor performs gentle repeated strokes over the injured area using the instrument.
Chiropractic guidance on Ergonomics
Most chiropractors offer treatment options to carry out daily with minimal body strain. This treatment addresses factors such as; home, work, recreational activities that can ease the dysfunction caused by whiplash accidents. The patient is also taught how to reduce stress and relieve the whiplash pain.
These exercises reduce disc instability caused by a whiplash injury. The movements can be done with a professional therapist's help, but it's also possible for the patient to practice them at home. The patient participates in their recovery process with McKenzie exercises to quicken the healing.
Besides, chiropractors combine the exercises with stabilization and sensorimotor to correct the dysfunctional movements. This strengthens the coordination of the nervous system, which improves the control over movement patterns. With time, the patient gets stable neck muscles.
Typical car accidents are either rear or front collisions, and they tend to affect the neck and spinal cord primarily. During such a crash, the bones go to a hyper-flexed position, and the lower ones into a hyperextended position. This causes the victim a lot of pain that sometimes cannot be relieved by medications. Chiropractic care does not involve any surgeries or medications to treat the injuries. Patients can find pain relief without dealing with unpleasant side effects of drugs such as bleeding, nausea, loose bowels, and allergic reactions. The process allows the body to heal naturally.
By Dr. Eric Mayfield DC