Whiplash is a common neck injury that occurs due to a forceful back and forth motion of the head – think of your neck cracking like a whip. Although the pain may initially feel bearable, this condition can intensify over the days and months following the injury. Knowing the causes, risks and treatment options for whiplash can keep you healthy and on-the-go even after an auto accident.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck sprain or strain that affects bones, ligaments, discs, joints, muscles, nerves and other soft tissue in the neck. When faced with high impact, your neck stretches beyond its limits, causing tears, herniation and fractures. This soft tissue injury is characterized by tell-tale symptoms:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Headaches
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating

More severe cases of whiplash may cause additional symptoms:

  • Poor sleep
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Aggravation/Irritability
  • Blurry Vision
  • Memory loss

What causes whiplash?

The most common and well-known causes of whiplash result from vehicle collisions, but any impact or incident that makes your head jerk violently can potentially lead to this injury. Some less obvious reasons include:

  • Impact sports like football
  • Slips and falls
  • Physical injuries from being punched or shaken

Risks of Untreated Whiplash

If you are involved in an accident involving your neck, you should be checked for potential injury. Whiplash does not always show up on imaging machines, so it easily goes unseen. While your symptoms may not seem serious at first, the pain that follows could be debilitating. People with untreated whiplash often experience chronic pain, some immobility from scarring and inflammation, and nerve damage.

Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy as a Treatment for Whiplash

Some cases of whiplash are mild and heal with rest, hot-cold compress and over-the-counter medications. However, all cases of whiplash benefit from chiropractic care and massage, especially the most severe instances.

Chiropractic care and massage work in tandem to realign and heal the vertebrae and muscles. In cases of whiplash, scar tissue can build up and limit the range of motion. The techniques used during massage therapy help gently break up built-up scar tissue, reduce muscle tension and stimulate blood flow to promote healing.

Starting treatment with massage therapy makes chiropractic care more effective. The muscles are looser after a massage, which makes manipulation of the bones easier. Chiropractic care relieves pressure on the neck and stops nerve compression that may be causing pain. The impact can cause misalignments, which can be treated throughout chiropractic sessions, but many patients begin to feel relief even after one visit.

Whiplash is so common that the severity of this condition is often overlooked. It is important to seek treatment from a chiropractic professional to encourage proper healing and reduce your chance of further complications. The right chiropractic care may help relieve old injuries and give your neck the support it needs to prevent new ones.