If you picture yourself cracking a whip, you may begin to understand why whiplash injury can be a serious condition. During a car accident, your body can make the same movement the whip does, a sudden back and forth. This can often cause damage to the neck, known as whiplash, which is the most common injury that results from car accidents. When your body undergoes trauma such as this, a Jonesboro chiropractor will be able to help you address the damage. It may be tempting to wait for whiplash to resolve itself, but chiropractors are able to employ techniques that can help you recover fully and safely.
Do I Have to See a Doctor?
It is true that most cases of whiplash will resolve within a few months and that long-term damage is not typical. However, it is still important to see a doctor if you may have whiplash, and to pursue treatment under the care of a professional.
When you are evaluated after an accident, it is about more than identifying whiplash. The spine and shoulders should be fully evaluated to rule out injuries to bones, discs, ligaments, or other tissue. Some severe injuries can share symptoms with whiplash but will worsen quickly if not addressed by a doctor.
Whiplash can also worsen over time without treatment. The sooner you are able to visit a chiropractor, the better your chances are of making a full recovery. Typically, when treated within the first week, whiplash is able to be resolved without long-term pain and disability. An immediate evaluation can help you reach your goals more quickly.
Diagnosis of Whiplash
When you first visit a chiropractor, they will likely ask you to talk through your symptoms so they can determine what may be causing your pain. You will also likely be asked to perform certain movements to test for the following indicators of whiplash:
- Range of motion in your neck and shoulders
- Ability to turn or move your neck before pain increases
- Tenderness in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Function of the spine
- Strength, sensation, and reflexes in the shoulder and arms
You may be asked to rate your pain during these activities as well. These can help with diagnosis and also tell the doctor what further tests to perform. If you experience problems during these tests, you may be sent to have imaging performed. Some of the tests you may undergo can find different issues:
- X-rays can find fractures, dislocations, or any pre-existing bone damage that can worsen the injury.
- CT Scans are able to produce cross-sectional images of the body, including bones but also muscles, fat, and organs.
- MRIs use magnetic fields and radio waves to create images of bones and soft tissue.
None of these imaging techniques can definitively show whiplash, but they can be used to rule out other conditions or identify additional damage that may worsen whiplash.
Whiplash Treatment Options
The majority of treatment for whiplash will be managing pain and symptoms. Patients may be told to take anti-inflammatory pain relievers for a time, to ice the area, and to avoid strenuous activity. In addition to this care, there are a number of ways a Jonesboro chiropractor can help with the healing process. There are three main methods that you will experience.
- Chiropractic Adjustments: Chiropractors use their hands to manually adjust the spine by applying pressure and mobilizing particular joints and tissues. This is intended to decrease pain as well as to re-align the spine so that it is functioning properly, helping to heal any damage caused by whiplash.
- Physical Therapy: Rather than using a brace to avoid movement, exercises and mobility are a large part of whiplash recovery. A chiropractor will work with you on exercises that can be used to regain movement and strength in the neck. As the muscles heal, pain will decrease.
- Muscle Relaxation and Stimulation: Applying gentle pressure to the muscle can help stretch it, decreasing the occurrence of muscle spasms and the pain that comes with them.
Based on your progress using these methods, you may be referred for more invasive treatment if the whiplash symptoms persist.
At AICA Jonesboro, our chiropractors work with a team of specialists to offer a comprehensive approach to healing your whiplash. When you visit our office, our goal is to help you return to health as quickly and safely as possible, which is why we offer a range of resources with expertise in whiplash and other car accident-related injuries. If you are suffering from whiplash symptoms or have recently been in an accident, contact our office today to schedule your first consultation with our Jonesboro chiropractors.