Whether you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident or were injured as a result of a contact sport or other accident, you need to find a way to get out of pain. Depending on the severity of your whiplash injury, traditional treatment may include pain medications, physical therapy, or even the use of a soft foam cervical collar.

While these are the common treatments that work for some patients, it’s estimated that 43% of whiplash patients suffer long-term effects, known as whiplash syndrome. This suggests the traditional methods used by medical providers for treating whiplash may not effectively facilitate healing. Discover the benefits of seeking chiropractic care quickly after an accident to help relieve your pain and support your body toward a full recovery.

Understanding a Whiplash Injury

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that commonly follows a motor vehicle accident. It happens when you experience a sudden jolt, either forward or backward, that causes your head to snap one way and then the other. The snap backward is called hyperextension, and the snap forward is hyperflexion.

The injury can include damage to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. The common symptoms include neck pain, headache, neck stiffness, dizziness, burning or prickling sensations, and shoulder or back pain.

Most people think that if they don’t feel the pain immediately following an accident they don’t have whiplash. However, the symptoms may not surface for several days. The injury can be so severe that it causes more significant and long-lasting symptoms such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, nervousness, sleep problems, fatigue, and even depression.

Some of the symptoms are caused by inflammation that results from the injury to the soft tissues in the neck. The more profound symptoms are caused by damage to the discs, which may protrude from their place and put pressure on the nerves running down the neck and spine. The more significant issues with the discs are ones that can cause some of the more troubling chronic symptoms.

Chiropractic treatment is uniquely suited to help alleviate these symptoms. It does this because it provides natural pain relief and corrects structural shifts that cause chronic problems.

Pain Treatment

The first reason you may seek chiropractic care after a whiplash injury is to help with pain relief. Chiropractic adjustments offer pain relief that extends beyond correcting what some would refer to as a pinch.

Rather, chiropractic adjustments have a unique way of providing pain relief without resorting to medications. Studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments release beta-endorphins, a natural chemical that blocks pain signals. This is why it’s common for a chiropractic adjustment to provide some relief to pain not thought to be associated with the back.

In addition to the release of these endorphins, chiropractic treatment also helps with the underlying cause of many kinds of pain. As stated, one of the causes of pain is the structural misalignment in the cervical spine. An adjustment helps to solve this structural misalignment, alleviating the underlying issue. However, you may still experience some pain related to inflammation and soft tissue damage.

Reduced Inflammation

When your body sustains an injury, it produces another chemical called neuropeptides in the tissues around the injury. It’s this production that causes inflammation and is one of the major factors contributing to pain following an accident.

Keep in mind that inflammation plays a necessary role in the healing process of injuries. It starts by protecting the area that’s been injured, such as an injury to the back causing inflammation that incapacitates the spine. In addition to protecting from further injury, inflammation starts the healing process for the damaged cells.

However, long-term and chronic inflammation can eventually cause damage to healthy cells, including tissues and organs. That’s why it’s important to get the inflammation under control and help the body stop producing the neuropeptides. Chiropractic treatment has shown the ability to interrupt neuropeptide production, halting the inflammatory response.

Prevent Long Term Nerve Damage

Any time you deal with an injury to the back or neck, part of the concern is long-term damage to the nerves. The spine is an incredibly complex part of the body. Most people think of the vertebrae and the discs that make up the spine. However, this is only a part of what comprises the spinal column.

Rather, there is a bundle of nerves that run up and down the spine known as the spinal cord, which ends with the caudal equina. The is the bundle of nerves that separate and run throughout the body from the lowest part of the spine.

When something compresses this nerve bundle, it prevents the proper signals from traveling, which interrupts normal body functions. When left compressed long enough, it causes permanent nerve damage, known as neuropathy. Part of chiropractic care is alleviating the pressure on the spinal column and protecting the nerves from permanent damage.

Full System Treatment

Traditional treatment tends to focus on the area of pain and alleviating the symptoms where they’re felt. However, whiplash can have systemic consequences, including referred pain due to nerve compression and inflammation.

Chiropractors look beyond the injury site to find areas that could aggravate a whiplash. This may include other areas of structural shift that cause you to move improperly, further exacerbating the neck injury. By evaluating your entire body, your chiropractor can address all structural shifts, helping ensure your body is in the best condition to facilitate healing.

When you see a chiropractor for a whiplash injury, they offer more than the typical adjustments that most patients think about. They may also offer massage therapy, which is another powerful treatment to help reduce inflammation and ease soft tissue injuries. Further, your chiropractor may include manual joint stretching or trigger point therapy. All of this is designed to relieve your pain, reduce inflammation, and restore your range of motion following your injury.

If you’ve had an accident of some kind and think you’ve sustained a whiplash injury, don’t wait to see a chiropractor. We’re ready to meet you and assess the extent of your injuries if you’re in the Redmond area. Call (425) 636-0303 to schedule your initial whiplash chiropractic consultation today.