How Does Chiropractic Care for Whiplash Work?

What should you know about chiropractic care for whiplash?

  1. It is not limited to the neck
  2. Spinal manipulation techniques will be used
  3. Manual therapy for soft tissue injuries
  4. McKenzie exercises and stabilization activities
  5. May include lifestyle changes
A neck injury caused by a quick sudden back and forth motion of the neck is called whiplash. This injury often happens during car accidents or other physical activities such as sports accidents or physical abuse. There are, of course, several ways to treat this. Chiropractic care for whiplash approaches the problem in a different way than a medical doctor would. Visiting a chiropractor would definitely be helpful if you’re experiencing discomfort from whiplash. If you want to know more about the care you’ll receive, keep reading to see some things you should know about the treatment.

It is not limited to the neck

Although whiplash is primarily a neck injury, the damage may extend to other parts of the spine. Neck trauma has a chance to affect any of the connected vertebrae of the spine. Your chiropractor would make a full examination before making a proper diagnosis. The entirety of your spine will be examined and checked for limited movement, tightness, or tenderness. Even your posture and the way you walk will be evaluated by the chiropractor to see if there are any other problems related to your spine and its alignment. In some cases, you might have to take an x-ray or an MRI to clearly see the state of your spine. Other than that, a neck injury might cause more recurring headaches and affect your lifestyle overall.

Spinal manipulation techniques will be used Spinal manipulation techniques will be used

Chiropractic treatment relies on and is mainly focused on spinal manipulation. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a number of techniques may be used to help alleviate the tension on your spine. The most common ones are:
  • Flexion-distraction technique
  • Instrument assisted manipulation
  • Specific spinal manipulation
  • The implementation of each technique will be at the chiropractor’s discretion.
The flexion-distraction technique treats herniated discs and arm pain that may come with a whiplash injury. Generally considered a softer technique, the chiropractor will apply slower and gentler thrusts to the discs instead of the spine itself. Any aggravated disc should be alleviated by this technique. Instrument-assisted manipulation, as the name suggests, involves using a specific instrument to apply force again without directly manipulating the spine. This instrument is used for patients with advanced age and/or degenerative joint complications. Specific spinal manipulation goes hand-in-hand with the preliminary examination performed by your chiropractor. The specific joints that are misaligned or have restricted movement will be manipulated with a thrusting technique that most people are familiar with. This would help restore motion and flexibility to the joint.

Manual therapy for soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries are treated in a different way than spinal injuries. Soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles do not directly benefit from spinal manipulation. For such injuries brought about by whiplash, your chiropractor might use any of the following manual therapy techniques:
  • Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Therapeutic massage
Instrument-assisted therapy here uses another special instrument meant to treat soft tissue injuries. The instrument will be used to apply soft, gentle strokes to the affected area. This differs from the techniques used for spinal manipulation because both the instrument and the technique itself target a different part of the body. A more precise way to target and treat soft tissue injuries is trigger point therapy. Your chiropractor will identify the tense or hypertonic parts of your muscles and use their fingers to apply pressure. With pressure and movement, the tension in your muscles should decrease significantly. Similar to the other two, therapeutic massage will be applied to the neck to alleviate more muscle tension in the area. Any joint resistance may be treated with specific techniques as well.

McKenzie exercise and stabilization activities McKenzie exercises and stabilization activities

Exercise is another common method used by chiropractors to help patients recover. As we all know, it has a wide range of benefits to our body, and specific exercises will improve the symptoms of someone with a whiplash injury. The McKenzie exercises are specifically meant for people injured by whiplash. They are very simple and easy to learn, but beneficial to the patient. These exercises are first done in the clinic then continued by the patient at home. Stabilization activities will help a patient restore their normal movement range. A whiplash injury could cause unstable movement, restricted walking, and others. These activities should assist your body’s coordination and reaction. By consistently doing this, your nervous system will be accustomed once again to your movements.

May include lifestyle changes

Chiropractic care for whiplash does not stop at manipulating your spine and muscles and making your bones pop. As your chiropractor sees fit, they may suggest lifestyle changes that would ultimately be better for your health and recovery. To accommodate the exercises and activities you will do at home, your chiropractor can point out how your daily life might be made easier. Anything that they might suggest is all for your health, so it’s better to heed their advice and live a healthier lifestyle.

Key Takeaway

Sustaining whiplash injuries may cause much discomfort, but as long as it’s not too severe, a visit to the chiropractor should alleviate most of it. Chiropractic care for whiplash includes spinal manipulation techniques, therapies, massages, and exercises - these all work together to treat the damage to your neck and body. Being afraid of whiplash is normal. Being afraid of any neck or spinal injuries is normal. Having a reliable and professional chiropractor should be a priority for most people. Looking for one in the Philippines? Click here to contact us!

Written By: Dr. Benedicto Luz Adorable III

Dr. Ben is the CEO and Founder of Philippine Chiropractic Healthcare Specialist. He has a Doctorate Degree of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.

To read more about Dr. Ben, click here.

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