Whiplash results when the neck is suddenly jolted in one and then the opposite direction , from the whip-like motion of a trauma. Auto accidents are a common cause (emphasizing the importance of having your head rests adjusted properly), but falls, athletic injuries, or work injuries can also have this result.
Whiplash often causes a sprain to the neck. Ligaments supporting and protecting the neck are torn. The muscles and tendons are also stretched beyond their normal limits. The cushioning discs between the vertebrae can be torn, possibly resulting in a herniated disc. Nerve roots between the vertebrae can be stressed and, though rare, vertebrae can be fractured or dislocated.
Whiplash commonly results in neck pain and stiffness, which can extend into the shoulders, arms, upper back, even the upper chest. Headaches radiating from the base of the skull are common. Turning the head often makes the pain worse. Dizziness, difficulty swallowing, nausea, ringing in the ears, jaw pain, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision can also result.
Whiplash can be treated with chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, temperature variations to reduce muscle spasm, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. An active-care program of exercise and stretching is important. The chiropractor’s spinal manipulation and/or mobilization can relieve the neck pain.
Unless indicated otherwise, staying physically active, within the constraints of the injury and the patient’s ability to do so, is quite important. The patient should not be afraid to move and be active, within reason. Your chiropractor will design with you an exercise and/or stretching program that is right for you.