If you’re unlucky enough to have been rear-ended in your lifetime then you could be very familiar with whiplash. Some people have even suffered whiplash due to a jostling ride on a rollercoaster.
So, we’ve all heard of whiplash and know that generally it’s caused by some brute force striking a person from behind, but what exactly is happening in your neck that’s causing you so much pain and what exactly is to be done about it?
What Happens When You Get Whiplash?
During an incident that causes whiplash, the cervical spine is thrust from its healthy C-shape curve into a destructive S-shape position. This means that the lower part of your neck moves backward while the upper portion is thrust forward. The force drives the lower part of the cervical spine to move far beyond its normal position thus traumatizing the surrounding muscles and ligaments. The same goes for the upper part of the spine.
Additional Injuries Related to Whiplash
:Unfortunately, the scope of the damage does not end with whiplash. Often times, as a result of developing whiplash, there are conditions that stem from it such as
- Joint dysfunction: long-term issues may arise in the affected joints causing them to lose their normal durability
- Herniated disc: whiplash may cause tears in the vertebral discs leading to their inner core to protrude into the spinal column
- Headaches: often associated with whiplash is the onset of headaches
- Chronic neck pain: neck pain will frequently linger following a traumatic neck injury such as whiplash
- Cognitive dysfunction and dizziness: it is possible to suffer severe enough whiplash injuries to effect a patient’s brain function and cause problems with concentrating or severe dizziness
- TMJ: something that is often overlooked in whiplash cases is the development of TMJ, or temporomandlbular joint injury, characterized by pain or clicking in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull just below the ear
Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash
Once you’ve been diagnosed with whiplash there are a couple of different treatments to consider. After the initial onset of pain, before you are able to see your physician, apply ice to the affected area. This will help to reduce swelling. If you have medicine on hand, pain killers are acceptable—anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen are highly suggested.
If you’ve seen your general practitioner or paid a visit to the hospital they will more than likely suggest seeking treatment for your neck pain from a chiropractor. The main treatment for whiplash is spinal adjustment. Remember the S-shape your neck was forced into? Well it needs to be put back into its natural C-shape! Your chiropractor will also incorporate gentle stretching of the muscles in the neck possibly couple that with trigger point therapy to stimulate the muscles.
Ways to Prevent Whiplash
If you want to avoid whiplash all together, there are ways to guard yourself in case an accident occurs. While these tips won’t prevent whiplash, you’ll have a better chance of a quicker recovery and a less intense injury if you work on a few key areas:
- Add neck strengthening exercises suggested by your chiropractor into your normal routine.
- Regularly stretch your neck throughout the day.
- Adjust the seat and headrest in your vehicle: keep incline at less than a 20 degree angle toward the incline; set the headrest so that the top of it aligns to the top of your head; adjust the headrest to sit at about 2 inches from the back of your head.
Living in Redondo Beach and are suffering from whiplash? Seek chiropractic treatment for your whiplash at Catalina Medical Center today.