Trauma from a Car Accident, Sports Injury or Slip and Fall can result in Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury that occurs as a result of a traumatic incident involving the head and neck.  Some of the most common signs and symptoms of a whiplash injury are:

  • Stiffness in the neck and upper back
  • Loss of mobility in the neck
  • Pain in the neck, upper back and between the shoulder blades
  • Headaches, particularly the back of the head and upper neck
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms and hands

In a rear end car accident, for example, the head and neck are essentially “whipped” forward and backward.  While the initial contact can be damaging, most of the significant injury is the result of the rebound force. In the moment the head changes direction, all of the connective tissue and muscles of the spine are stretched beyond their normal capabilities. This causes mico-tears in the tissue resulting in inflammation and swelling. If you’ve had a whiplash, you will remember the first thing you felt was soreness and stiffness in the neck. You might have not even been able to turn your head to one side or look up and down.  These are the common first signs of a whiplash. This same type of injury can occur while getting tackled playing football, checked while playing hockey or run over while playing soccer.

In many cases of whiplash, there is also underlying damage to spinal discs and spinal nerves. Imagine slamming your finger in a door. This same event happens to the spinal nerves that exit between the spinal bones.  The force of impact or rebound causes a narrowing of the joint space.  With the space for the nerve and disc being comprimised, the delicate tissues are essentially pinched or compressed.  The effects of this injury show up as numbness, tingling or pain in the upper back, shoulder, arm or the hand.

While the initial soreness and stiffness generally self resolve within 3-6 weeks after the accident, the underlying tissue damage does not. If not treated properly, the injuries from the whiplash can become permanent resulting in a lifetime of neck pain, stiffness, soreness and limited mobility. It is for these reasons that we recommend a chiropractic exam as soon as possible following an accident or injury.

Evidence based chiropractic care focuses on helping the soft tissues, discs and nerves heal from the injury.  Chiropractic adjustments work towards restoring healthy alignment of the spine in the neck and upper back region. Soft tissue therapies like ultrasound, scraping and cupping assist in muscle and connective tissue recovery.  Rehabilitative exercises help restore normal function and strength to the damaged tissues. The result is not only feeling better, but functioning better and getting back to living life the way you want.