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How Does a Chiropractor Treat Whiplash?

Last Updated: April 22nd, 2019 at 05:43 pm
Read Time: 3 Minutes

Whiplash is a common car accident injury caused by injury to the neck muscles from the rapid forward and backward motion of the neck during a wreck.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash causes neck pain and stiffness, loss of range of motion, tenderness in the shoulders and upper back and arms, dizziness, and more. Severe whiplash can cause ringing in the ears, insomnia, irritability, and memory problems.

If you experience any neck pain following an accident, it is important you seek medical treatment right away. The symptoms of whiplash are sometimes not apparent until hours after a wreck. Even if you did not seek emergency medical care after an accident, you can still see a chiropractor so you can get medical treatment for whiplash.

What Can I Expect from My Chiropractor?

Upon your visit to a ChiroCare of Florida office, a chiropractor will evaluate and examine your spine health. The doctor will identify areas of restricted joint movement, specifically around your neck. The doctor may use a palpitation technique, which will allow them to feel for tenderness and tightness. Your chiropractor may also request imaging tests, such as an x-ray or MRI, to evaluate any other possible injuries.

Once you have been diagnosed with whiplash, a treatment plan unique to your needs will be outlined.

Techniques to Treat Whiplash

There are several spinal manipulation techniques that may be used during your treatment for whiplash.

Instrument-assisted manipulation – Using specialized instruments, a chiropractor can apply force without pushing into the spine.

Flexion distraction – Another technique that does not involve pushing into the spine, flexion distraction involves using a slow pumping action on a herniated disc that may be aggravating your whiplash injury.

Specific spinal manipulation – First, the doctor must identify spinal joints that have restricted motion. The chiropractor will help restore motion using a gentle thrusting technique that stretches the soft tissue around the area and stimulates the restoration of normal motion.

Along with spinal manipulation, your physician may use other therapies to treat the injured soft tissues around the neck.

Therapeutic massage and trigger point therapy may help ease muscle tension. Manual joint stretching may involve stretching the neck to improve range of motion. Chiropractic physical therapy may also be suggested to strengthen the muscles, improve posture, and restore normal neck movement.

How Long does Whiplash Last?

The duration of whiplash symptoms will depend on how severe the injury was. On average, with the addition of chiropractic treatment individuals with whiplash recover within three months. However, according to studies, anywhere from 12% to 50% of individuals still experience frequent neck pain a year after the accident occurs. You may be at higher risk to experience chronic pain as a result of whiplash if:

  • Pain was severe from the onset of the whiplash
  • Pain developed immediately following the accident
  • You've experienced neurological symptoms, such as memory loss
  • You experience shooting pain in your arms or fingers

Continuing chiropractic treatment can help reduce the risk of chronic pain and help victims find relief from their whiplash injury.

About the Author:
Dr. Sean Driscoll
Born and raised in Olean, NY, Dr. Sean Driscoll relocated to Florida 12 years ago. Dr. Driscoll majored in Athletic Training Sports Medicine at The University of Florida, and received his Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has been treating patients with manual therapy for over 10 years and feels privileged to share the healing benefits of chiropractic with the people of South Florida.
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