For Doctors of Chiropractic, one of the most common issues that they face is treating patients that are suffering from whiplash. Though it is a single term, there are different types of whiplash injuries and they can result from different types of trauma. Since there are different types of whiplash injuries, there can be different sources of whiplash pain. To provide effective treatment, a chiropractor needs to understand the different injuries that fall under the term whiplash and how they can affect the patient.
The term whiplash covers a range of injuries that affect the cervical spine and the surrounding tissue and support structures. It is generally an injury that includes a sprain and/or strain to the neck that resulted from a sudden jolt. A whiplash injury can include damage to the ligaments, the tendons, muscles, the spinal discs and possibly the vertebrae. Symptoms of whiplash include pain, loss of motion, muscle dysfunction, joint misalignment, tenderness and tightness.
In many whiplash injuries, the individual will experience issues with joint function that not only affect the mobility of the neck, but also cause a considerable amount of pain. When there is a joint that is not functioning properly in the neck, it can cause issues with the nearby nerves and it can also irritate the muscles in the neck. Additionally, the body has a natural tendency to want to compensate for an injury like those that affect the neck and this compensation can lead to a muscle imbalance that will further aggravate the injury and possibly cause pain and soreness in other regions of the body like the shoulders and the upper back.
Muscle dysfunction is another common issue with whiplash injuries. The muscles can easily become injured form the sheer force of such a jolt to the neck, but it is also common for the muscles to become irritated by the effects of the other whiplash injuries. As mentioned above, when the joints of the neck or even the ligaments and the tendons become injured, the muscles attempt to compensate for the effects of the damage and this can lead to muscle dysfunction. This can cause the patient to feel a significant degree of pain, tenderness and soreness.
Another common issue with whiplash injuries is damage to the discs that are between the vertebrae. The force of a sudden, sharp jolt can cause the spinal discs of the neck to tear, rupture or become inflamed. This can cause significant pain as well as a tingling feeling, loss of mobility and weakness in the muscles.
Treatment for a whiplash injury will vary depending on the areas of the neck that are damaged and the type of damage that was sustained. Your chiropractor will perform a thorough examination of the injury; this exam may include physical tests to measure strength and range of motion and possibly some diagnostic imaging to allow for a visual assessment of the damage.
Once the chiropractor has an understanding of exactly what type of whiplash injury you have and the way that it is affecting you, they will form a treatment plan that can include a range of different treatment techniques. Some form of chiropractic adjustment will play a fundamental role in the treatment plan, but they may also employ additional treatment options like massage, physical therapy, ice and heat therapy or possibly technologies like ultrasound and electrical stimulation.
For injuries and pain in the neck and back, there are few options that can provide better results than a treatment plan designed by a skilled chiropractor. If you are suffering in the aftermath of a whiplash injury, chiropractic care offers a diverse range of possibilities for pain management and injury rehabilitation.
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