Chiropractic care for auto accident injuries and whiplash

Each year in the U.S., millions of automobile accidents occur including low- and high-impact collisions that cause injuries. The most frequent type of harm resulting from car accidents is whiplash.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash occurs most often with rear-end collisions when there is a rapid and abrupt movement of the head and neck backward and forward. The sudden extension of the neck can create a variety of injuries and symptoms. Whiplash injuries often differ from one person to another, depending on the severity of the auto accident and the overall health of the individual injured in the crash.

Whiplash causes soft tissue injuries that can result in significant ligament and neck muscle damage. It can also cause considerable damage to joints located between vertebrae and discs of the spine as well as nerve roots and cervical muscles.

Symptoms of whiplash

The symptoms of whiplash can present themselves immediately after an auto accident. However, there is frequently a delay in the appearance of such symptoms, anywhere from 24 hours to several days after an accident.

Typical whiplash symptoms can include:

  • Neck pain including swelling and stiffness
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in the hand or arm
  • Burning or prickling sensations

Additionally, some people may experience:

  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Trouble with memory
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disruption
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Evaluating whiplash cases

Because whiplash symptoms can take 24 hours or longer to occur, it’s important to see a doctor at the earliest sign of whiplash symptoms. Even if you feel you only have minor neck pain, it’s recommended to be examined by a doctor of chiropractic; you may have injuries in joints between the vertebrae and discs of your spine.

Your doctor of chiropractic will perform some tests and a physical and neurological exam to identify any areas of injury.  The physical exam includes observing your posture, testing your range of motion, and determining if any movements cause you pain. The neurological exam includes tests of your reflexes and the strength of your muscles to identify if you have any nerve damage.

In addition to these exams, your doctor of chiropractic may also order medical imaging such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to determine if you have bone fractures, herniated discs, a spinal injury, or other significant soft tissue injuries.

Once the exams, tests, and imaging (if necessary) are complete, your doctor of chiropractic will develop a custom treatment plan to help you control and manage your pain during your recovery.

Chiropractic treatment of whiplash

The course of treatment will vary depending on the severity of your whiplash injury. The chiropractic treatment plan is unique to each whiplash injury and treatment to control pain, restore your range of motion, and return to normal activities while treating the injuries detected during the exams.

Your treatment plan will vary depending on the extent and severity of your injury. Doctors of chiropractic will employ different chiropractic treatments for whiplash based on the individual’s injuries. These treatments may include chiropractic manipulation, muscle relaxation, and stimulation as well as exercises and ergonomic and lifestyle changes.

Additionally, treatment for whiplash may also include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and heat application.