Whiplash is a neck condition where the muscles and ligaments are injured due to strong sudden movements in the backward and forward directions, as in a violent car collision situation. Accidents from sports and accidents may also cause whiplash injury. In a whiplash injury, your head goes through a sudden acceleration and then deceleration, and the neck structures are subjected to an unusual range of motion. It has been found from video analysis of actual collision cases that when a car is hit from behind by a fast vehicle, the car passenger’s neck gets hyperextended, which can cause the whiplash. The condition can be mild to severe but many treatment options are available.
Symptoms and Conditions Associated with Whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash injuries do not appear immediately, but within 24 hours of the event causing the injury. They include headache, which is more commonly felt directly above the neck area, neck pain, stiff neck, dizziness, blurry vision and fatigue. In moderate to severe whiplash, patients experience memory problems, irritability, difficulty concentrating and problems sleeping. In more serious cases of whiplash injuries, the head cannot be moved without pain, the pain extends to the arms and shoulders, and there is weakness, numbness or tingling in the arms.
These conditions are often associated with whiplash injury:
- Neck pain – This is the most common condition experienced from whiplash injury. Most people who get whiplash will feel some kind of neck pain.
- Headaches – The combination of neck pain and injury to the brain that are caused by whiplash can cause headaches.
- Dizziness – People who get whiplash injuries also experience some dizziness. This is due to the resulting injuries from facet joints of the spine and the brain stem.
- Low back pain – About 50% of patients who sustain whiplash injury also get low back pain. This is a result of accidents that are rear impact type wherein the body moves forward then snaps back.
Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash
With the many available options to treat whiplash, chiropractic care is the preferred option by so many people. It is a manipulative treatment for the neck and spine to improve the conditions in a safe and non-invasive way. The spinal manipulation during chiropractic care, improves the vertebrae’s position in the spine, in the process helping restore movement in the affected part of the body. For many patients, chiropractic care, often employed in conjunction with massage therapy and physical therapy, is the best means they achieved recovery. Chiropractic care may also apply soft tissue rehabilitation technique. It helps improve other structures such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs and internal organs that can be disturbed by the whiplash injury.
With chiropractic care, one may experience relief from pain within a period of a few days or weeks. However, six months is the normal length of time needed for full recovery. Continued treatments using chiropractic care is often needed.
Other Treatment Options for Whiplash
Along with chiropractic care, there are other types of treatment options for whiplash injury. While home care or over-the-counter drugs may be sufficient for some, prescription drugs, physical therapy and specialized pain management may be needed by other people. Some of these options are:
- Pain management – The doctor may recommend any or a combination of the following to alleviate pain:
- Rest – This may be helpful especially within the first day of the injury.
- Application of heat or ice to the neck
- Over-the-counter painkilling medications – Mild to moderate pain can often be controlled by pain relievers, such as, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
- Prescription painkillers – Patients with higher pain level may benefit short-term with prescription pain relievers.
- Muscle relaxants – These medications may relieve pain and help in restoring sleep.
- Injections of numbing medicine into muscle areas feeling pain
- Exercise – A series of movement and stretching exercises may be recommended to restore range of motion in the neck and enable patient to resume normal day-to-day activities.
- Physical therapy – The physiotherapist may help teach range-of-motion exercises and exercises to improve posture, strengthen muscles and restore normal movements.
- Acupuncture – This treatment technique that uses fine needles, which are inserted through certain specific locations in the skin, may provide pain relief.
- Massage – This method may also provide relief of neck pain.
With an array of available treatment options for whiplash injury, it is wise to identify what is effective, safe, natural, less invasive and cost efficient method to get the best overall results and benefits.
There is hardly anyone who has not suffered from back pain. You may be among the eight out of ten people affected by back pain. Based on data from the American Chiropractic Association, at any given time, there is an estimated 31 million Americans who experience low-back pain. Back pain is a health complaint with one of the highest occurrences and one of the top reasons for absence from work. Aside from the huge negative financial impact it has because of American workers’ loss of productivity, it also accounts for at least $50 billion in annual spending on back pain treatments.
Causes of Back Pain
Injuries from accidents, work and sports are the most obvious causes for back pain. Other factors can contribute significantly to back pain and they include:
- Improper posture
- Being obese or overweight
- Poor physical condition from inactivity
- Kidney stones and other internal diseases, infections and blood clots
- Osteoporosis, a bone loss condition
- Psychological or emotional stress
Tips to Prevent Low Back Pain and Back Problems
Health care professionals recommend these simple pointers to prevent back problems and back pain:
- Before any activity requiring strenuous physical exertion, do stretching.
- Always stand and sit up erect. Do not slouch.
- Use chairs or seats with good back support, especially in the lumbar area, when sitting.
- Do not sit continuously for long periods of time. Take periodic breaks to stand and walk around to stretch muscles and relieve tension.
- Avoid bending over to pick up or reach for objects.
- When lifting, use your legs, not your back, to carry the load. Keep your back straight.
- Wear low-heeled and comfortable shoes.
- Control your weight to an ideal level.
- Do not smoke. Smoking reduces the flow of blood to the lower spine and leads to spinal disc degeneration.
- Keep your spine and bones strong by taking enough Vitamin D.
Other Ways to Prevent Low Back Pain
Aside from following these simple steps, which are mostly self-care and personal lifestyle changes, experts also suggest the following therapy methods for low back pain treatment and prevention:
- Chiropractic Care. Chiropractic is on top of the list. It is far safer, more cost efficient and more effective natural therapy for low back pain than medical treatments. Chiropractic emphasizes the body’s innate healing capability when it is free from spinal abnormalities. Both the American College of Physicians and American Pain Society concluded in a paper published in 2007 that spinal adjustment is the only active treatment recommendation for acute low back pain in patients whose conditions do not improve after other self-care options have been availed.
- Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST). It is a non-invasive and gentle technique that stimulates the body’s reflexes. In this process, NST “resets” the body so it can heal itself. The results have been reported to be profound and lasting and observed as early as after the second and third sessions.
- Mind-body techniques. Examples of this method used in treating severe low back pain are Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique (EFT/MTT). They are mostly used by psychiatric and psychology professionals who maintain that pain can have psychological or emotional origin. They are reported to have a higher than 80% success rate. Practitioners of these types of treatment techniques believe that underlying emotional issues as well as unresolved trauma can greatly influence one’s physical health, especially as it relates to pain.
- Massage therapy. The iliopsoas, muscles that connect the lumbar region to the femur, can shorten by sitting for extended periods of time. A massage therapist can apply deep but gentle massage technique to the pulled iliopsoas to release it, and the pain that goes with it. Mild stretching can also be done to counteract the shortening action of the iliopsoas.
- Intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation. For chronic low back pain, experts recommend the application of any combination of exercise therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, yoga, progressive relaxation and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
With so many different effective and safe options to treat low back pain, there is little or no reason at all to turn to medications or surgery that do little to address the underlying causes of back pain and might bring additional health issues with their use.