Whiplash: in one jarring instant, everything changes. Neck pain. Loss of range of motion in your neck. Pounding headaches. Fatigue. Dizziness. If you’ve experienced the intense, sudden injury of whiplash, we already know that this resonates with you deeply. It can feel as if normal life has been turned upside down in the blink of an eye.
Because the effects of whiplash have such a profound effect on how you operate your day-to-day life, it’s easy to feel as if you’re all alone in your pain, or question if you’ll ever find complete relief.
Take heart; we have good news for all those suffering from whiplash. Conservative care options offer amazing (and lasting!) relief. Yes, you CAN get rid of your neck pain for good.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash happens from a sudden, back-and-forth movement of the head that mimics the cracking of a whip. Thus, the name: whiplash. Far and away the most common cause of whiplash is from rear-end car accidents, but it can also occur in sports accidents or through other traumas. The unifying factor: a sudden onset.
Whiplash is not one of those injuries that compounds over time. Instead, it happens in a moment but instills lasting effects on its victims. What many people don’t realize is that whiplash can occur at low speed collisions, as low as 5 MPH. Whiplash may not even involve vehicles–all it takes is a forceful impact to snap the neck and head forward and back, which occurs in contact sports such as football.
This sudden injury to the neck is generally followed by symptoms of neck pain, stiffness, loss of range of motion, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and tenderness in the shoulders and upper back. Some more extreme cases also report blurred vision, ringing in the ears, memory issues, trouble sleeping, and trouble concentrating.
Can I Treat Whiplash At Home?
First and foremost, if you’ve experienced whiplash, it’s best to seek a full medical evaluation immediately. Though many cases of whiplash are treatable at home, you’ll want to make sure that there isn’t a further injury to any bones or tissue damage in the area. Your doctor may order an X-ray, MRI or CT if they suspect more serious structural damage. These clinical images will help give them a full picture of what happened during the accident.
Once you’ve ruled out more serious bone or tissue injury with your doctor, an at-home rehabilitation plan is advised. Within the first 24 hours following the injury, resting is very beneficial for both pain management and to kickstart the healing process. However, after this initial period, too much rest can actually delay your recovery back to full health. You may have seen those (fashionable!) foam neck braces to immobilize the neck, but that’s actually the last thing you want to treat whiplash.
After you’ve been cleared for gentle activity, begin incorporating a few basic exercises prescribed by your doctor. These will usually involve some side-to-side head movement, neck rotation in both directions, and rolling your shoulders forward and backward. If your symptoms persist, a longer term rehab plan may be recommended.
How Chiropractic Can Help Whiplash Symptoms?
Chiropractic is actually one of the most effective ways to treat whiplash symptoms. Regaining movement and motion in and around your neck area is incredibly important for your body to heal. Chiropractic care is beneficial from the onset of your symptoms and throughout your recovery.
How so? Gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities that your chiropractor may perform help to alleviate pressure in your joints, decrease inflammation, and allow your entire body to function optimally. They may also choose to add some manual soft-tissue work to help the muscles around your neck relax, again helping with mobility. Additionally, your practitioner may recommend appropriate at-home exercises specific to your injury history to perform outside of the office. At-home therapy can pay huge dividends toward your healing timeline and can be almost as valuable as the in-office treatment.