Whiplash is an injury that affects the neck muscles and is caused by sudden jolting motion of the neck in one direction to the opposite direction. The most common example when whiplash occurs is in a vehicular accident. The injury usually causes sprain in the neck, acute neck pain and restricted neck movement.
Chiropractic Treatment of Whiplash
The chiropractor’s approach in treating whiplash is unique to every individual and condition. The common techniques a chiropractor employs may include spinal manipulation, muscle stimulation or relaxation, various exercises and guidance on lifestyle changes and ergonomic.
The chiropractor will not just examine the cervical region of your spine but the entire spine. The injury may not be confined to the neck, but to other areas of the spine as well. The chiropractor will identify areas where there is restricted joint motion, ligament injury, intervertebral disc injury, and muscle spasm. The chiropractor may use certain diagnostic techniques such as motion and static palpation, sensory techniques that involve touch. The chiropractor will examine the areas for tenderness or tightness, and for abnormality in spinal joints movements, using these techniques.
Aside from these checks, the chiropractor will observe the way you walk, your posture and the condition of your spine’s alignment.
Imaging test like x-ray and MRI may be used to check current spinal condition and for any degenerative conditions that may have been present even before the whiplash injury.
The outputs from these examinations will then be analyzed to come up with a recommendation for a treatment plan for your whiplash injury.
The primary aim of the spinal manipulation for joint dysfunction is to move the joint that is affected into the direction where it has restricted movement. The spinal manipulation, also called chiropractic adjustment, may utilize the application of short thrusts in the said direction. Another option the chiropractor uses instead of the thrust technique, involves slow mobilizing movement.
Muscle Relaxation or Stimulation
Inhibited muscles tend to have repeated contractions and excessive tension. Muscle related dysfunctions, such as this, are treated by means of muscle relaxation and stimulation, which consist of techniques to gently stretch the inhibited muscles. For very tight muscles, the stretch applied is made more vigorous. Pain condition that comes with tight muscles is also normally treated using gentle finger pressure. It is applied to certain trigger points to relieve pain.
Several exercises may be recommended by the chiropractor depending on the need of the whiplash injury patient. Examples are:
- McKenzie exercises, which are designed specifically to reduce derangement of the disc from the injury, and
- Sensorimotor and stabilization exercises, wherein the approaches are created to rectify faulty patterns of movements in everyday life and routine activities.
Changes and Advice on Ergonomic
They are recommended by the chiropractor to help the patients improve in performing their daily activities with very minimal strain to their bodies. The chiropractic advice also focuses on addressing issues in the patients’ home, work or leisure activities that may sustain or aggravate the effects of the whiplash injury.
The chiropractor’s roles in the care for whiplash injury patients involve treatment of the whiplash injury, restoration of the patients’ normal functions, and total rehabilitation of the patients, which aims to bring back the patients’ confidence and their ability to live their lives as when they were injury-free.
Back pain is so common, eight out of ten people will experience it at some point in their lives. The most commonly affected area is the lower back. In many cases of low back pain, the condition improves with self-care within a few days or sometimes, weeks. Some low back pain conditions become chronic and may last for months or even years. They can have debilitating effects and pose great challenge to healthcare professionals in their diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Low back pain is one of the most common reasons for workers’ absence from work. Its impact to the economy in terms of lost wages, reduced productivity and cost of treatment is worth over $100 billion annually.
Some of the self-care practices that people with low back pain do, include doing exercise and staying physically active, applying heat to the affected area and taking medications for pain relief. Other therapies from healthcare service providers such as massage, physical therapy and acupuncture can bring mild to moderate relief for low back pain.
Chiropractic Adjustments for Low Back Pain
Spinal manipulation or spinal manipulative therapy is the technique used by chiropractors to relieve pain from nerve irritability and help improve physical function and increase range of motion. It is done with the use of hands to apply controlled force to the spinal joint to correct abnormality or subluxation. The amount of force the chiropractor uses depends on the appropriate type of manipulation used for the patient’s particular condition.
Many reviews conclude that spinal manipulation applied this type of pain when performed by an experienced and licensed practitioner is relatively safe. The common side effects noted after the adjustments are temporary soreness and discomfort in the area treated, which normally go away within one to two days, and the feeling of tiredness. Serious complications are a rare occurrence.
A 2010 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) noted that spinal manipulation is a complementary healthcare method that offers additional therapy option to conventional treatment, which often provides limited benefit in the management of back pain and neck pain.
The American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians, in their 2007 guidelines, recommended spinal manipulation as one of the treatment options for healthcare professionals to consider when self-care does not help improve low back pain.
Another review in 2010 that looked at different therapies such as spinal adjustment and massage for a series of health conditions found conclusive evidence to the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for chronic low back pain. It also found moderate evidence of the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for conditions of acute low back pain.
A 2008 review comparing spinal manipulation in the treatment of low back pain with various combinations of other treatment options is very revealing. It reported that:
- There is strong evidence that spinal manipulation is as effective as the combination of conventional medical care and physical exercise.
- There is reasonable evidence that spinal manipulation in combination with strengthening or firming exercises is as effective as taking prescription non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAID) together with exercises.
- There is limited to moderate evidence to show that spinal manipulation works more effectively than physiotherapy and home exercise.
It was also proven in studies that the use of opioid drugs long-term does not bring about improvement in functioning for patients suffering from chronic low back pain. Non-drug therapies including spinal manipulation, however, can bring benefits to these patients.
Overall, results of studies and actual practice have demonstrated that spinal adjustments are one of the best options that can provide effective relief from low back pain.