If you are experiencing hard-to-identify neck or shoulder pain after a car accident or fall, don’t just shrug it off – it is likely whiplash. Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries in Oregon, yet many people never get treatment for it, thereby running the risk of long-term damage. Seeking effective treatment for whiplash can reduce neck pain, inflammation, and the potential for chronic headaches. Chiropractic treatment is one of the best ways to ensure a proper healing process, as it helps improve joint range of motion, facilitates proper healing of the soft tissues, as well as increases and creates proper balance and function within the spinal system.

Why is it called whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury that gets its name from the motion of a whip cracking, since a forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck can resemble the action of a whip. As painful as that sounds in the moment, you may not feel pain right away, as it can often take a few days for symptoms to begin. These symptoms might include pain and stiffness, tingling, numbness, tenderness and/or fatigue. Furthermore, contrary to what many assume, whiplash symptoms are not confined solely to the neck. They can also be felt in the shoulders, upper back, lower back, arms, and hands.

Why does whiplash hurt?

The pain and discomfort of whiplash comes from the physiological effects of sudden hyperextension and hyperflexion of the neck which ultimately creates swelling and inflammation. When the muscles and ligaments of the cervical spine extend past their usual range of motion, micro tears occur in the soft tissue and the muscles tend to tighten and spasm in an effort to protect the area from further damage.

Additionally, the “whip” of an impact is likely to cause a misalignment of a vertebra in the cervical spine. This can be due to the direct injury or due to the associated spasms and tightening of the surrounding muscles. A whiplash injury can also include damage to tendons, discs, and vertebrae of the neck.

How does chiropractic help?

The first thing a chiropractor will do to diagnose whiplash is perform an in-depth history and examination. Your chiropractor will ask questions to determine the details of the injury-causing event – such as which side the impact occurred and whether you were moving at the time. This information helps guide the appropriate diagnosis and type of treatment for your condition.

After the initial injury, treatment typically focuses on reducing inflammation and improving range of motion. Oftentimes, therapies are also used (such as ultrasound, laser, ice and stretching or massage) to help in the healing process.

Chiropractors also use different types of joint manipulation (or adjustments) to help improve joint restrictions within the spine. These techniques can help prevent or reduce permanent adhesions or scar tissue from developing in the soft tissues surrounding the spine. Gradually, the soreness and stiffness will ease and you will be able tilt and turn your head without pain. In addition to adjustments, your chiropractor may recommend rehabilitative exercises to speed up the recovery process.

If you live in the Eugene or Springfield area of Oregon and suspect you may have a whiplash injury resulting from an auto accident, sports injury, or fall, contact our office to determine if chiropractic care is right for you. If you desire to seek chiropractic advice and treatment, our top-rated doctors are here to help.

Our office offers free chiropractic consultations to discuss your pain and recovery options. Contact Back2Strength at (541) 484-0360 – and start feeling better today!