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Chiropractic Care May Help with Whiplash Injury

Approximately 66% of people that are involved in a motor vehicle accident will develop symptoms of whiplash, which is a soft tissue injury to the neck that can occur when the head is suddenly jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits. Whiplash causes the muscles and ligaments supporting the head and spine to become stretched or torn. The soft, pulpy discs between spinal bones can bulge, tear or rupture. Vertebrae can be forced out of their normal position, reducing range of motion.

This instability of the spine and soft tissue caused by whiplash can contribute to headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, pain in the shoulders, arms and hands, reduced ability to turn and bend and low back problems.

Symptoms of whiplash can develop within 2 – 48 hours after the injury or other times these symptoms may not appear until weeks or even months afterward as the body attempts to adapt to the injury. Whiplash is most commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, but it can also occur from work or sports injuries, slips or falls.

Imaging Options

In order to make a correct diagnosis of whiplash, a chiropractor may request a cervical x-ray. An X-ray is especially helpful if the doctor suspects trauma to the neck, such as a vertebral fracture or severe pain or symptoms of numbness or tingling in the hands.

If there is neck pain with radiating symptoms of tingling and numbness or any evidence of neurological deficit without improvement with chiropractic care, a doctor of chiropractic will likely request an MRI to rule out any spinal cord damage.

Treatment Options

Immediately following a whiplash injury, apply an ice compress to the back of the neck for about 10 minutes on, then 30 minutes off for the first 48 hours. In general, whiplash injury patients are advised to stay active. Immobilization is normally reserved for serious injuries. In the first few days after a whiplash injury, if the neck trauma is severe, a cervical foam collar may offer relief. However, if worn too long, a cervical collar can further weaken supportive muscles and actually lengthen recovery time!

Chiropractic care is frequently sought out after injury such as whiplash. We, Community Chiropractic of Acton, know that proper alignment of your spine allows for greater overall health of the body. When a person experiences a whiplash injury, it can cause cervical and thoracic subluxations, which are misalignments in the upper part of the neck and back.

How Chiropractic Might Help Whiplash Injury

The chiropractic adjustment may help:

  • Restore mobility and range of motion
  • Reduce pain, stiffness, and soreness
  • The muscles to receive freshly oxygenated blood and nutrients

A study by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Bristol, UK, designed a retrospective study to challenge the preconceived notion that “43% of patients will suffer long-term symptoms following ‘whiplash’ injury, for which no conventional treatment has proven to be effective.” This study demonstrated that 26 of 28 patients (93%) diagnosed with ‘chronic whiplash injury’ improved following chiropractic treatment, as assessed before and after entering chiropractic care.

How Our Doctors Care for Whiplash Patients

For those who have never had chiropractic care or experienced the benefits of chiropractic care after a major trauma to their body, they might be fearful. We understand how that might feel. Our doctors of chiropractic have over 30 years of combined experience in caring for patients, including patients who come to us in crisis after an injury. We are extremely gentle and most people find that our adjustments offer great relief!


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