Auto Accident/Whiplash

Whiplash and Chiropractic

First, What is Whiplash
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck-is also called neck sprain or neck strain. It is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck, usually because of sudden extension and flexion. The disorder commonly occurs as the result of an automobile accident and may include injury to intervertebral joints, discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots.

Classic Signs and Symtoms of Whiplash
People who experience whiplash may develop one or more of the following symptoms, usually within the first two days after the accident:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
  • Low back pain
  • Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue

Why should I see a Chiropractor for a Whiplash Injury!!!!!

Chiropractors are specialists in treating non-surgical spine injuries and commonly treat whiplash injuries from car accidents. The job of the chiropractor in helping his or her patients overcome the pain and disability associated with whiplash is to:

  • Diagnose the source of the pain from the whiplash injury
  • Treat the most important dysfunctions
  • Teach the patient to return to a more normal lifestyle

The process of rehabilitation from a whiplash injury requires a concerted effort between the chiropractor, the patient and any other professional assisting in the case. The likelihood of success of recovering from whiplash is enhanced by a continued focus on restoring normal function with the help of the chiropractor.

Chiropractors evaluation of patient history for a whiplash injury

The chiropractor will review specific information regarding the car accident:

  • What was the vector of the crash (i.e., rear-end collision, head on collision, side impact collision, etc)?
  • Was the patient wearing a seatbelt?
  • Did the patient or the vehicle strike any other objects after the crash?
  • Was the patient aware of the impending impact?
  • How was the patient’s head positioned at time of impact?
  • What was the collision speed and damage amount?

The chiropractor will also ask questions about the whiplash injury:

  • Where is the exact location of the patients pain?
  • What is the quality and character of the patients neck pain or back pain?
  • What movements, positions or activities either increase or decrease the patients neck pain or back pain?

Finally, the chiropractor will ask about any other symptoms that may be related to the pain, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, dizziness, or blurred or double vision.

Chiropractor examination of a whiplash injury
Next, the chiropractor will examine the patient to assess, in the immediate stage, whether serious whiplash injury is present that may require hospital and/or surgical referral, and to identify specific tissues that have been injured.

  • The chiropractor will conduct a neurological examination which involves a cranial nerve examination, sensory, motor and reflex examination of the extremities, and tests for injury in the brain.
  • Orthopedic Testing will be carried out by the chiropractor that stresses certain tissues to see if they have been injured by the whiplash.
  • The chiropractor will perform motion palpation, designed to assess the mobility and pain reactions in the joints of the spine.
  • The muscles of the spine will be examined by the chiropractor for tender areas called myofascial trigger points, which are common sources of pain after whiplash. During this muscle examination the chiropractor will also look for gross muscle spasm.

Upon what is found during this comprehensive examination the chiropractor will then determine whether any additional tests (such as x-rays, MRI, EMG or blood tests) are required. The chiropractor will obtain reports from any tests that were done through the emergency room or at previous consultations with spine specialists to avoid unnecessary duplicate testing at the chiropractic clinic.

Once all the necessary information has been gathered, the chiropractor will make a determination as to the best course of action required to bring about maximum recovery from the whiplash injury in the shortest time possible. This may mean referral by the chiropractor to another specialist or a chiropractic treatment plan.