Whiplash is one of the most common injuries suffered by people who get into car accidents.
Television shows and movies frequently depict sufferers of whiplash as cons or exaggerators seeking to connect with money. Almost anyone who frequently watches television or movies can think of at least one scene in which an alleged victim whips off their neck brace to reveal that they are not truly injured.
Despite this very flippant treatment in the media, whiplash remains a serious and common injury that affects tens of thousands across the United States every year. Anyone who has suffered a motor vehicle accident could potentially develop whiplash as a result.
Those that have been injured should not let media depictions of whiplash dictate how they respond to their injuries. Medical care, including physical therapy and even ongoing chiropractic care, could help improve the daily lives of those with whiplash.
What is Whiplash?
At its most basic, whiplash is a severe strain of the neck. Strains involve damage to the muscles or tendons in a particular part of the body, which makes them different than sprains, which involve torn ligaments. Whiplash is a neck strain, typically the result of jerking motions in a motor vehicle collision.
As the vehicle accelerates or decelerates rapidly and shakes as a result of the crash, the human body ends up thrown around inside the vehicle. Whether there is abrupt front-to-back or side-to-side motion, the result may be damage to the muscles, tendons of the neck, and upper shoulders as your body tries to keep your head supported.
The good news for those who suffer from whiplash is that in most cases, full recovery is possible.
Chiropractic whiplash treatment typically involves rest, rehabilitative services, and pain or inflammation management. The average whiplash sufferer will have a long road to recovery, but full recovery is common.
What are the Signs of Whiplash?
Knowing the signs of whiplash can help you determine if you need to see a doctor. Many people initially mistake the symptoms of whiplash for standard soreness after a collision. However, while a little muscular tension is common after a collision, that shouldn’t persist for more than a few days.
The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Stiffness or pain in the neck
- Pain that increases when you move the neck
- Decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders
- Inflammation or pain in the upper back, shoulders, or arms
- Numb or tingling arms
- Headaches which may radiate out from the base of the skull
- Tinnitus, also known as ringing in the ears
These symptoms can quickly impact a person’s quality of life. Persistent pain can impact the mood or personality of the victim, and that same pain can reduce a victim’s ability to sleep, which can directly impact their quality of life and ability to recover from the injury.
In some cases, whiplash symptoms are so serious that people cannot safely perform self-care, drive a vehicle, or perform their standard duties at their place of employment.
How Whiplash Impacts Your Daily Life
Many people diagnosed with whiplash initially underestimate how their whiplash symptoms will affect their daily life. Knowing that the condition will typically heal over time, even without medical intervention, may lead some people to think of it as a less serious condition.
However, from the moment of the inflammation and tension start developing, victims of whiplash will experience a significantly decreased quality of life.
The muscular tension associated with whiplash leads to persistent pain sensations. That ongoing pain can make it difficult to focus on even the simplest of tasks. For those who have physically strenuous or mentally demanding jobs, whiplash may preclude adequate job performance.
Workers often have to take several weeks off from their job to recover fully.
During that time, rest, as well as physical therapy and symptom treatment, are necessary for full recovery. People with whiplash may also struggle to be able to provide for their own daily needs. Showering, which often involves raising the hands over the head to shave or apply shampoo and conditioner, may become difficult, if not impossible.
Cooking, cleaning, and other necessary daily obligations may also cause pain or be prohibitively difficult with reduced strength and range of motion in the neck.
Finally, the lack of sleep that often accompanies chronic pain can lead both to irritability and decreased mental function. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation impact everything from your ability to focus, to your overall mood. In other words, while whiplash may heal naturally, most people want to facilitate that process and minimize how long convalescence will take.
Chiropractic care, either instead of or in conjunction with mainstream Western medicine, can both decrease the experience of painful symptoms in whiplash victims and improve their quality of life.
How Long Does Whiplash Take to Heal?
Struggling with the debilitating pain of whiplash may lead to concerns about how long whiplash will take to heal because whiplash has such a negative impact on quality of life and well-being.
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to that question.
The length of the rehabilitative and healing period will depend on both the physical health of the victim and the severity of the injury. The quality of care a patient receives will also have an impact on how long healing takes.
In minor to moderate whiplash cases, the healing process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. In more extreme cases, the months could extend into a year or more. Experiencing chronic, severe pain for that long can have a terrible impact on the body and psyche of the victim.
The more severe the injury, the longer it will take to heal, and the more extreme the symptoms of the victim.
Thankfully, treatments can help reduce how long it takes you to recover from whiplash.
Interventions may include anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, pain relievers, and muscle relaxation techniques.
In some cases, doctors can also recommend massage for whiplash, as well as other soft-tissue treatments, including chiropractic care. Physical therapy may also be necessary to rebuild strength and regain range of motion in the neck after a whiplash injury.
How Chiropractic Care can Help with Whiplash Recovery
Anyone who understands the basics of chiropractic care will quickly see how chiropractors help with whiplash.
After all, this entire approach to well-being and health involves a focus on the best possible alignment of the spine.
It makes sense, then, that chiropractic professionals, whose education and career focus entirely on the spine, would be uniquely well-situated to offer comprehensive services, including physical therapy for whiplash, a strain of the upper spine/neck.
Chiropractic professionals can often provide excellent care for whiplash injuries, as well as other treatments that can reduce pain and improve spinal alignment.
These could include:
- ultrasound treatments
- laser therapy
- and other pain management procedures.
Chiropractors can offer comprehensive treatment options, ranging from physical therapy for whiplash recovery to regular adjustments and medical massage intended to reduce pain and facilitate healing.
Patients with pain related to whiplash may notice an immediate improvement after initial chiropractic treatments.
The adjustments and muscular release from chiropractic care help your body reset itself during a period of muscular stress and inflammation related to the whiplash injury.
The manipulations and other services provided by a chiropractor can also help address underlying alignment issues that may otherwise have prevented your body from properly healing. The relaxation that may result from a positive chiropractic session can also facilitate the faster healing of injured tissue in your neck and upper shoulders.
Seeking Chiropractic Care for Whiplash
Even if you have never seen a chiropractor before, dealing with whiplash symptoms is an adequate reason to schedule your first visit. Chiropractic professionals have access to cutting-edge diagnostic technology, much like you will find in physical therapy or internal medicine offices.
X-rays and even soft tissue imaging can help your chiropractor locate the worst injuries to the tendons and muscles of your neck. These imaging tests can also help rule out bone damage and locate any potentially pinched or damaged nerves as well.
Once you and the chiropractor understand the extent and location of your whiplash injuries, it is possible to begin treatment.
Manual adjustments and other treatments can all help reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and improve your quality of life as you heal. Regular chiropractic sessions while dealing with whiplash will decrease your overall recovery time and improve your prognosis and quality of life after treatment.
Deciding to pursue every option for your well-being after a diagnosis with whiplash is a wise choice. Working with a chiropractor for adjustments, pain management, and physical therapy for whiplash can improve your recovery time and quality of life.
As a bonus, your chiropractor can help you gather necessary evidence if you need to bring an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the other people involved in the crash as well. Receiving adequate care can help underscore the seriousness of the initial injury and its impact on your life.
Contact Beach Pain Center
If you have recently been in an auto accident in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and are seeking chiropractic advice and treatment, our top-rated doctors are here to help.
Our office offers free chiropractic consultations to discuss your pain and recovery timeline.
Contact our office to get started today.