The Twists and Turns of Whiplash

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, chances are you’ve experienced whiplash. What happens to the neck when you get whiplash?

Whiplash is basically a neck strain–an injury to the muscles and ligaments in the neck and upper back. Typically it’s caused by being rear-ended in a car. The head moves suddenly, forward and back, changing the normal curve of the upper back and neck. Your neck is vulnerable to injuries like this because of its ability to move in many directions. The symptoms of whiplash are fairly easy to identify: Neck and upper back pain; neck tightness or muscle spasms; pain in the neck and shoulder; and headache and dizziness ( could indicate a concussion and needs to be treated immediately).

Severe whiplash can cause injury to discs, ligaments, joints in the vertebrae, neck muscles and nerves in the neck. Don’t stress, though. The majority of people who get whiplash fully recover.

To treat whiplash, most medical practitioners encourage their patients to stay active, unless absolutely prohibitive (due to pain, e.g.). A neck brace might be recommended temporarily, but only if the pain is extreme. Cervical collars shouldn’t be used for longer than three to five days. Instead of a brace, or after removing one, a combination of ice and heat can be used to ease spasms and inflammation. Medications can help, too, but should be used sparingly and only for a short time.

Your chiropractor is a tremendous resource in the treatment of whiplash. Spinal manipulations and neck adjustments will help return your neck to a normal position and the vertebrae in the spine to their proper place, gradually increasing the range of motion of your neck. Adjustments can help with stiffness and pain in the neck, upper back and shoulders. Adjustments also increase circulation and promote healing of your neck. If your chiropractor uses electrical stimulation as part of treatment, this will also help reduce pain and get your neck moving again.

Whiplash, while inconvenient, is rarely a life-threatening condition. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above and had a sudden, jarring movement to your neck recently, talk to Dr. Roach and his team about treatment options. Patience and adjustments to your neck will soon have you functioning normally.`

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