Improving Your Posture

Whiplash: More Than Just A Pain In The Neck

Whiplash is the generic term for neck pain and stiffness caused by a sudden involuntary jerking of the neck and/or upper back muscles. While this injury can occur from any violent motion of the neck, it is most often associated with motor vehicle accidents.

This is most likely to happen when a vehicle is hit from behind and the victim's head is thrown back suddenly from the thrust of the offending vehicle. Whiplash can result in limited ability to turn your head in any direction, in addition to moderate to severe neck pain.

Unfortunately, your spinal vertebra in the neck can also be thrown out of alignment, resulting in blinding headaches as well as a host of other maladies.

How can whiplash cause headaches and affect the healing process?

The spinal nerves travel along the spinal column, a line of vertebra that extend from the brain stem to the lower back. These nerves transmit impulses from the brain to every part of the body. 

When the spinal column is thrown out of alignment, individual vertebrae may irritate the spinal fluid that surrounds the nerves or pinch the nerves themselves. This causes disruption and corruption of the nerve impulses, including those that facilitate healing.

In addition, pain or numbness may be felt in diverse areas of the body. Pain may be especially acute near the point of injury, in this case the neck, as corrupted nerve impulses are sent in an attempt to allow healing to commence.

What can be done to facilitate healing of whiplash type injuries?

A common practice involves wearing a neck brace to support the neck muscles and inhibit movement until the muscles have healed sufficiently for the brace to be removed.

However, if the neck vertebra have become misaligned, wearing a neck brace will cause the muscles to become stiff and compel the vertebra to remain out of alignment.

A chiropractor is needed to place the vertebra back in their proper alignment and keep the stressed neck muscles from remaining stiff and forcing the vertebra back out of alignment.

How can a chiropractor treat whiplash?

A chiropractor will manually manipulate the neck vertebra until they are back in proper alignment, and engage in muscle stretching to allow the muscles to regain their natural shape.Gently forcing the vertebra into alignment accelerates the healing process by allowing nerve impulses to travel more freely and effectively.

Stretching stiff neck muscles prevents them from pulling the vertebra back into heir misaligned state.

These activities must usually be done in a series of sessions because of the violent nature of the incident that caused the injury. Healing can be facilitated, but it can be made to be instantaneous. 

A neck brace might be beneficial for a short period of time to allow the patient some pain relief, but it can't remain in place for too long or the muscles will become so stiff that a chiropractor will be unable to realign the vertebra until the muscles have been stretched enough to allow movement of the vertebra to occur.

It is best to schedule your first appointment within a few days of the incident, so the chiropractor can determine when the brace can come off and chiropractic treatment can commence.