Automobile accidents occur every day. Some are serious and others are merely fender benders. Injuries are common from crashes, even the low-impact ones. The majority of medical costs for auto accident injury treatment occur during the first 18 months following the crash.
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. This injury causes a myriad of issues, and the accompanying symptoms can be debilitating. Getting treatment for whiplash is important because if it remains untreated, this usually results in chronic issues that become harder to care for.
Chiropractic treatment can help treat not only the symptoms of whiplash but also the cause of the symptoms. At Mount Prospect Health Center, our whiplash chiropractor focuses on the ability of the body to heal itself, and the approach to treating whiplash is to fix troubled areas so that the nerves and muscles can function properly and heal completely.
How Whiplash Occurs
Whiplash is one of the most common auto accident injuries and occurs when a force causes the head to move back and forth in a rapid motion. This causes the neck to move out of its normal range of motion, which results in injury to the ligaments, muscles and nerves.
There are numerous causes of whiplash, and auto accidents are a common one. Whiplash occurs more often in rear-ended crashes, although other types of crashes can also result in whiplash injuries. Seeing a car accident injury chiropractor can help with the associated symptoms.
Common Whiplash Symptoms
Damage to the neck can result in a variety of symptoms, as the nerves in the neck supply different areas of the upper extremities. Symptoms may start off mild and increase as time goes on, or symptoms may be severe from the start. Seeking chiropractic care for whiplash helps with the common symptoms and signs:
- Neck stiffness and pain
- Shoulder pain
- Minimal range of motion in the neck
- Exacerbating pain with neck movement
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities
- Tenderness in the upper back
- Blurred vision
- Low energy and tiredness
There are other symptoms that some people notice after a car accident:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory problems
- Anxiety or depression
Although these symptoms are often the result of whiplash, they may also indicate mild brain injury if the brain hit the skull during the accident. If these symptoms continue, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a medical doctor to rule out a concussion.
There are certain risk factors that increase the chance that someone will have more severe symptoms as well as chronic problems. Some of these include:
- Previous whiplash injury
- High-speed collision
- Prior or existing neck or back pain
- Older age
The Delay of Symptoms and What to do After an Accident
Some people do not see a whiplash chiropractor because they do not think anything is wrong. Depending on the severity of the accident and other factors, the victim of a car crash may not notice symptoms right away. A person often has excess adrenaline immediately following an accident, which can cover up symptoms, and it can be quite chaotic and confusing after a crash.
Often, a person is thinking more about exchanging information with the other driver, what to do about any vehicle damage and being late for work than they are about symptoms. Plus, some symptoms take hours or even days to appear. Common delayed symptoms related to whiplash include headaches, neck pain, shoulder stiffness, and numbness in the arms and hands.
Because the physical symptoms of whiplash are not always present or noticeable right after an accident, many people do not seek medical care or an auto accident chiropractor. When symptoms do finally appear, many ignore them and think they will go away with time. Even if the symptoms do dissipate, the injury is still present, which means that the crash victim will very likely have future issues related to the accident.
If an individual notices symptoms, even minor ones, after an accident, he or she should seek chiropractic care for whiplash as soon as possible, as the sooner treatment begins the sooner healing occurs. Even if there are no symptoms, a person should schedule a consultation with a chiropractor, as this healthcare professional can detect issues in the spine even without symptoms present. If there are symptoms, and the patient is unable to see the chiropractor for a few days, icing the area of pain for 10 to 15 minutes every hour should help reduce the inflammation and manage symptoms until treatment can begin.
What Chiropractic is and How a Whiplash Chiropractor Can Help
Chiropractic is an alternative healthcare profession that deals with the spine and spinal injuries. The spine houses the spinal cord and all the nerves that supply the cells, organs, and systems of the body. In order for a person to be completely healthy, the nervous system needs to function. Unfortunately, things like mental stress and physical stress, such as from a car accident, cause the spinal bones to misalign. This puts pressure on the associated nerves, which causes them to function at a lower level.
Nerve pressure can result in a variety of issues. Symptoms such as acute or chronic pain and tingling are just some of the problems related to dysfunctional nerves. Over time, if the pressure remains, chronic issues crop up, which are hard to manage. A chiropractor finds these misaligned areas in the spine and uses chiropractic adjustments to put them back into place, restoring regular nerve function.
What to Expect During a Chiropractic Visit
A person who seeks out chiropractic care for whiplash will probably notice that the visits are thorough, and the chiropractor finds exactly where the problems are. Within chiropractic, there are many different ways, known as techniques, to adjust the spine. The specific visit will vary based on the technique that the chiropractor practices, but there are some general things to expect.
To start, the whiplash chiropractor will ask a lot of questions regarding a patient’s medical history. This includes past illnesses, surgeries, and medication use. Next, the chiropractor will ask about what brings the patient in for the visit, including details about the accident, types and severity of symptoms, how the symptoms affect daily life, and other information to help understand what is going on.
Next, the chiropractor will perform an exam. This includes palpation of the spine and associated muscles, range of motion tests and specific orthopedic and neurological tests. The chiropractor may also take X-rays of the spine, as this diagnostic test gives information that the other parts of the exam cannot detect.
Based on the exam results, the auto accident chiropractor will determine what the issues are and how to treat them. In most cases, at the beginning of your treatment plan while the pain is acute adjustment is done with an activator, instead of a manual adjustment. After several weeks of treatment after MRIs are taken and the inflammation has gone down, manual adjustments could be the main part of the treatment process. An adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation, moves the spine in a particular way that removes pressure from affected nerves.
The chiropractor may adjust multiple areas of the spine, including the neck, upper back, lower back, and pelvis. Depending on the technique, the adjustment may use a low or high force, and the patient may or may not hear the spine moving. Adjustments are usually comfortable, and many people say that they actually feel great.
There are often injuries to the muscles when there is a whiplash injury. Muscles are often tight, swollen and spastic. Along with the adjustment, the chiropractor may work on relaxing the muscles, such as trigger point therapy or similar work. It is not uncommon for a chiropractor to refer a whiplash patient to a massage therapist, as massage therapy and chiropractic work well together and often result in the patient seeing quicker results.
Once the spine begins to stabilize, the chiropractor may recommend physical therapy or exercises that the patient can do to strengthen the spine and prevent future injuries. These exercises may occur in the office during the patient visit, or the chiropractor may demonstrate them and have the patient work on them at home.
The exercises recommended to help with recovery after a whiplash injury are not difficult. The goal of most of them is to restore regular movement in the neck and help transition to normal activities. Some examples of movements that a chiropractor may recommend include rolling the shoulders forwards and backward, rotating the neck on each side as far as possible and bending the head forward, backward, and sideways.
Patients should not begin these movements too soon, as it could exacerbate the injury. They should wait until the auto accident chiropractor gives them the ok and watches them to make sure they are doing them correctly.
Schedule a Consultation Today
At Mount Prospect Health Center, we use natural techniques, such as chiropractic care for whiplash, to heal the body and manage symptoms from a car accident. Seeing a whiplash chiropractor is effective because the treatment fixes the cause of the problem rather than just covering up symptoms. Seek medical attention from one of our chiropractors right after a motor vehicle collision will not only help you feel better quickly, but it will also prevent future chronic issues. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.