Whiplash is defined as an injury to the neck, by moving the head forward and then backward in a rapid fashion that places strain on the neck muscles and ligaments. Whiplash is most common when the victim has been rear-ended, or hit from behind by another vehicle but can result from physical abuse (such as shaken baby syndrome) or contact sports. The symptoms of whiplash vary and are not limited to -
- Restricted joint movement in spine or limbs
- Displacement of spinal discs, also known as a herniation, which causes sharp pain down one or both arms; It also can create small tears in spinal tissue and damage the nervous system, which is followed by numbness, tingling and muscle weakness
- Chronic pain in the neck area
- Cognitive dysfunction that may include difficulty concentrating
- Pain in their jaw
- Difficulty swallowing
It is also possible that you will have no observable symptoms shortly after the accident with the onset of pain or other complications several weeks or months later. That's why it is important that you are evaluated immediately after any auto accident even if you don't have any pain.
Certain types of pain are potential medical emergencies and should be treated as such. These include:
- A shooting pain through one or both arms
- Tingling or numb feeling in one or both arms or hands
- Inability to touch chin to your chest
The primary objective of the chiropractor is to use gentle manipulations that treat the spine and discs so that they are aligned properly. These manipulations are also designed to reduce muscle spasms and rebuild muscle strength with the aid of physical therapy.
The chiropractor will first focus on reducing inflammation and check the neck, mid and low back. From there, the range of motion, disc injuries and muscle spasms will be examined. Other factors that will be noted are walking, posture and spinal alignment. A comprehensive exam provides an understanding of the individuals' body mechanics. X-rays and /or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be taken along with the patient medical history to determine whether they can be treated.
Some cases of whiplash may only require ice and heat therapy to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles, respectively. Non-medicinal treatment may include acupuncture, massage or Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). You should not try to make a treatment assessment yourself. Only a trained professional can evaluate your whiplash properly.