What people typically associate whiplash with is not always correct. Yes, a car accident where your head is thrown forward and backward can cause whiplash but the term itself applies broadly to a neck sprain or strain. More medical terms under the category of neck injuries are hyperextension and hyperflexion. The former occurs when the neck is whipped backwards while the latter is opposite.
Car accidents are not the only cause of the injury; complications from sports, falling or being shaken can lead to whiplash.
The whiplash injury is not always immediate with showing its symptoms. It may show up immediately but more commonly it will take days, weeks and possibly months to fully surface. This is important to remember because although you may feel fine after an incident that would likely cause such an injury, it is critical to monitor it and contact your doctor. If left untreated, there can be more serious, long-term issues that arise regarding your spinal health. On the more serious side, disc degeneration can be sped up and osteoarthritis may develop. When it comes to your spine, it is better to be on the safe side so consult your doctor and chiropractor following a potential injury – even if you do not have neck pain/stiffness and/or tightness of the shoulders.
One option is to consult a chiropractor about the possible whiplash treatment options. Surgery may be required for the more serious cases but non-surgical whiplash therapy can provide total healing. A chiropractor, with every appointment, examines the entirety of the spine so if other areas have been affected they will be detected. Restrictions in the movement in the spine, intervertebral disc injury, spasms and ligament complications will be looked for. Common techniques for diagnosis are either employing motion and static palpation involving touch, or simply feeling for tightness and tenderness. For a more complete picture of your spinal health and possibility of injury, your chiropractor will assess your walk, spinal alignment and posture to see the overall health. It is also possible that they will request an x-ray or MRI of your spine to narrow down possible culprits of your discomfort. Previous injuries or degeneration will be detected to cross off possible causes.
Whiplash treatment is based upon the different stages of the injury. In the initial (acute) phase, a chiropractor will focus on bringing the inflammation down via stretching or ultrasound. Do not be surprised if they ask you to apply an ice pack or neck support for a brief period of time to assist in the healing process. With progression away from an inflamed neck, the chiropractor will use gentle manipulations to bring normal motion back to the neck’s spinal joints.
Three specific whiplash injury treatments are as follows:
- Specific spinal manipulation – once the affected joints are discovered, a gentle thrusting technique will be applied to stretch the soft tissue and stimulate the nervous system
- Instrument-assisted manipulation – with the help of an instrument, thrusting is not necessary. Force is applied to the spine in a manner safe for older patients
- Flexion-distraction technique – the whiplash injury may have created a bulging or herniated disc and this hands-on method targets that. A slow, pumping action on the disc is used rather than spinal direct force.
Now that you more fully understand whiplash, the treatment options, and severity if left unchecked, contact BackFit Health+Spine today for a consultation. Their expert staff will provide exceptional care and possibly save you from surgery. With locations throughout the Valley, visit http://backfit1.wpengine.com/contact-us/ to schedule your appointment and find the nearest BackFit Health+Spine to you.