Whiplash is a common auto collision injury, but the reality is that any impact (including sports collisions) that causes a sudden and intense flexing and extension of your neck can cause whiplash. This quick jolting motion causes structural damage, including disc, muscle, ligament, or joint damage. Nearly two million Americans develop whiplash each year, and unfortunately, untreated whiplash doesn’t often go away on its own. It can lead to chronic neck pain.
If you’re one of the two million Americans dealing with whiplash, there’s hope. Barry Hughes, DC and Brittany Anz, DC are experts at diagnosing and treating whiplash, and we encourage you to reach out at the first sign of neck trouble.
In the meantime, learn more about the symptoms of whiplash and how it’s treated.
How Do You Know if You Have Whiplash?
Sometimes, especially after an accident, you might not realize you’ve injured your neck. That’s because the temporary surge of adrenaline from an accident can mask pain. However, over the hours and days following an accident, you might notice neck stiffness and pain develop. (This is called delayed onset, and it’s another good reason to seek medical assistance after an accident, even if you feel okay at first.)
Whiplash can vary in severity from mild to severe, and as many as 50% of those diagnosed with whiplash fall into the latter category. Signs you might have whiplash include:
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced range of motion
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty sleeping
Severe whiplash can also contribute to increased irritability and increased feelings of anxiety. Other signs of severe whiplash include pain that radiates from your neck to your hands, memory loss, and other neurological symptoms.
How is Whiplash Treated?
Because whiplash symptoms can linger without treatment, it’s important to seek treatment any time you suspect you’ve injured your neck. Whiplash treatment typically includes a combination of heat and cold therapy, stretching exercises, and physical therapy. The three goals of physical therapy are:
- Strengthening your muscles
- Improving your posture
- Restoring normal movement and function
Other treatments include acupuncture and chiropractic care. Studies show that acupuncture reduces pain and improves the range of motion in the neck and shoulder. Likewise, chiropractic care also reduces pain and improves the range of motion in your neck. The first stage of chiropractic care for whiplash is to reduce inflammation with stretching, massage, and ice packs. Once your inflammation eases, you may benefit from gentle spinal manipulation to restore normal motion to your neck’s facet joints.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, other chiropractic techniques that may be incorporated into your treatment plan include:
- Flexion-distraction technique, which treats herniated discs (if the whiplash aggravated yours)
- Instrument-assisted manipulation, if you also have degenerative joint syndrome
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques
- Trigger point therapy
In other words, whiplash treatments are designed to reduce inflammation, restore your range of motion, and address any structural damage (joint, muscle, ligament) that occurred as a result of your injury.
Questions about whiplash treatment? If you suspect your neck pain is caused by whiplash, call our Pearland, Texas, office at 281-223-1172 or book an appointment online to get started with your treatment plan.