Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash

Accidents can result in all sorts of injuries. One of the most common is whiplash. Whiplash can be sustained after a trip or fall but is most often seen in people who have been involved in a car accident. The injury can be very painful and debilitating, but in many cases, the symptoms don’t appear until hours or even days after your accident. This is usually the result of shock, which causes the release of chemicals that mask pain and other signs of injury. While some instances of very mild whiplash resolve themselves without any professional help, the effects of whiplash can lead to debilitating and long-term problems if left untreated. Visiting a chiropractor shortly after an accident can enable whiplash to be identified and treated promptly before it has any lasting effects on your quality of life.


What is whiplash?

Whiplash is the name given to an injury that occurs when a sudden force causes the head and neck to whip backwards and forwards in a very fast and uncontrolled manner. This movement places a great deal of strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue that extend from the upper back into the head, overextending them so that they suffer from damage that then needs to heal.


The effects of whiplash are far more than just physical symptoms. Patients who experience it may find that it has a significant effect on their quality of life. If patients need time off work, this can have a direct impact on income, while living with persistent pain can cause depression and, in some cases, trigger a reliance on pain-relieving medication. The inability to participate in your usual activities can also lead to low mood and depression. Fortunately, chiropractic care can help to ensure that patients don’t reach the stage where their quality of life is permanently compromised by their injury.


What are the signs and symptoms of whiplash?

It is important to remember that it is likely that you won’t realize that you are affected by whiplash right away. You may have felt your head and neck respond to the force of the accident but may not have symptoms of whiplash right away. This is normal and a result of chemicals racing around your body in the aftermath of an accident. When symptoms do become apparent, they could include the following:


- Neck pain

- Difficulty moving your head from side to side or up and down

- Stiffness in the neck

- An area of your neck may feel hot to the touch

- Headache/migraine

- Muscle spasms in the neck, upper back, and shoulders

- Pain and tenderness in the upper back and shoulders

- Ringing in your eyes

- Blurred vision

- Dizziness

- Fatigue

- Vertigo


The severity with which you experience these symptoms may vary depending on how badly you have been injured. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications may help alleviate discomfort, but actually only mask the injury rather than treat it.


How can a chiropractor help with whiplash?

Chiropractors are complementary therapists that are trained specifically in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of injuries and conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. This includes the muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues found in the neck and that extend up from the spine.


When you suffer from whiplash, a number of different internal injuries may have affected your musculoskeletal system. These include:


- Muscles and ligaments can be overstretched causing dozens of tiny tears in them, or they could be torn completely.

- The intervertebral discs between each of the bones of the spinal column can tear, rupture, or bulge out of place.

- The bones of the spine themselves can be forced out of position.

- The spinal cord and surrounding nerves can be overstretched and irritated.


Any of these injuries could result in the symptoms associated with whiplash.


A chiropractor’s main focus is to realign the spine and balance the musculoskeletal system so that all of your body systems can function more effectively. In doing this, oxygenated blood can flow more effectively around your body, reaching the areas that require healing. By delivering oxygen and nutrients to these areas, they can repair and heal more quickly and efficiently. Chiropractic care also reduced inflammation and promotes the production of natural, pain-relieving chemicals in your body. This can help patients to achieve pain relief without the need for medications and in many cases, regular chiropractic appointments following a whiplash injury can reduce or even eliminate your need for painkilling drugs.



If you have been involved in an accident and think that you may be suffering from whiplash, or if you would like more information about how chiropractic care can help treat whiplash injuries, please contact Frame Chiropractic & Acupuncture today.  

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