Whiplash injury is a term used to describe a type of neck pain/injury that results due to rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck (like the cracking of a whip). This motion can potentially injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, nerves, muscles and other tissues of the neck. Leading multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective non-surgical treatment options for whiplash injury, including chiropractic care. This popular treatment modality involves treating neck pain/injury using specific, gentle adjustments that help restore spinal movement.
Whiplash injury is usually associated with rear-end car collisions, motor vehicle accidents, physical abuse or assault, contact sports or a slip and fall. There are a variety of other factors that can predispose a person to this type of injury, such asvertebral subluxations, osteoporosis, arthritis, and prior whiplash injury. Common signs and symptoms usually develop within 24 hours of the injury and include neck pain and stiffness, loss of range of motion in the neck, headache, dizziness and fatigue.
How Does a Chiropractor Diagnose Whiplash Injury?
In a multispecialty healthcare center, chiropractors work with a team of specialists involving neurologists, physical therapists, orthopedists and other pain management doctors to treat neck pain/injury associated with whiplash. The chiropractor may evaluate and examine your entire spine as a whole to determine whether any other regions of the spine (not just the neck) are affected. This will also involve assessing areas of restricted joint motion, muscle spasm, intervertebral disc injury and ligament injury and checking for tenderness, tightness and spinal joint movement. Imaging tests such as X-ray, CT scan, Nerve studies (electromyography, or EMG) and MRI scan may be used to identify any degenerative changes that may have existed before injury. The diagnostic images and results of the physical and neurological evaluation will be evaluated to arrive at a diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash
Chiropractic care is a safe and non-invasive alternative to correct the body’s alignment to manage and relieve pain caused by whiplash injury. Chiropractic treatment is based on the concept that the connected parts of the body affect each other and that an injury to any one part may result or cause injury to another part as well. Some of the health benefits of chiropractic treatment include
- Reduced pain and discomfort
- Low muscle spasm and inflammation
- Improved range of motion and flexibility
- Improved blood circulation
The chiropractic treatment plan for whiplash injury depends on the type and severity of injury. The most common chiropractic technique is spinal manipulation/adjustment. By using hands-on technique or certain tools, spinal manipulation involves manipulating the joints using a controlled, sudden force to realign the spine and the surrounding muscles. This frees restrictions in the spine and restores the misaligned vertebrae to the proper position. This will help reduce nerve irritations that cause neck pain and inflammation associated with this condition. Other pain management modalities that may be used in conjunction with spinal manipulation include –
- Electrical nerve stimulation – This technique uses a low frequency electrical current to help stimulate muscle spasms and relax the muscles surrounding the nerve, which can ultimately reduce inflammation.
- Ultrasound – By increasing blood circulation, this technique can help decrease muscle spasms, pain and stiffness in your neck. It accomplishes this by sending sound waves deep into muscle tissues and creating a gentle heat that increases circulation.
- Ice or heat – Ice packs reduce inflammation and heat application loosens tissues thereby stimulating blood flow to the affected area.
- Exercise – Therapeutic exercise programs help to strengthen muscles and joints and increases flexibility. These include – gentle stretching, strengthening, aerobic and isometric exercises.
Advances in automobile safety have attempted to reduce the risks of whiplash injury. The following measures can also help:
- Use seatbelts and drive motor vehicles with airbags
- Proper adjustment of the car seat headrest can help keep the neck from snapping backwards
- Office workers or other people who sit in the same position every day should take regular breaks to stretch and exercise their necks
Mild or moderate cases of whiplash injury can be easily treated at home using medications, a cervical collar (brace), or other simple remedies. On the other hand, if symptoms such as difficulty in moving head or arms, neck pain and numbness or tingling sensation in the arms persist, it is important to seek medical attention without delay.