Whiplash

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the head.  Most whiplash will heal with treatment in 6 to 12 weeks.  If left untreated, whiplash can lead to chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression

These symptoms can be delayed for up to 48 hours after injury, and it is typical for symptoms to worsen over the first 48-72 hours

Causes

Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents, but can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse and other types of trauma, such as a fall.  Essentially, any back-and-forth movement of the neck can cause injury to surrounding bony structures, ligaments, muscles, nerves and connective tissues, which constitutes whiplash.

Treatment

In the acute phases immediately following injury, our care will focus supporting normal function as much as possible as your tissue heals.  In this process, inflammation is necessary to support the body’s healing, but too much inflammation can become problematic.  Before treatment, we will assess your injury in order to ensure that the level of inflammation is supportive of healing.

 

We may use gentle adjustments to keep the joints and muscles moving as they heal.  As inflammation and pain decrease, we can start myofascial work like Active Release, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Graston therapy.  We will also provide at-home exercises so that you can maintain and/or regain strength and coordination in the damaged tissues.  Our goal is to support your body’s natural healing mechanisms as much as possible and to help restore pain-free movement and function to your neck.

References

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. (n.d.). Chiropractic for car accident whiplash injuries. https://www.albertachiro.com/ACAC/Chiropractic_in_Alberta/BLOG/Chiropractic_for_car_accident_whiplash_injuries.aspx

Canadian Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Whiplash. https://www.chiropractic.ca/about-chiropractic/how-our-experts-can-help/treating-injuries-conditions/head-neck/whiplash/

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