Can a Chiropractor Help With Whiplash? Find Out the Best Way to Heal Gently and Effectively
You have been feeling a lot of neck pain and stiffness since your wreck happened over the weekend. You didn’t have any apparent injuries, and you thought you were fine, but you are beginning to wonder if you might have whiplash.
You are wondering, can a chiropractor help with whiplash?
Chiropractic care can help heal many different things and whiplash is no different.
This guide will help you learn all you need to know about why chiropractic treatment for whiplash can be incredibly effective.
Read on to discover what therapies and modalities a chiropractor might use and what makes them work.
Table of Contents
Should You See a Chiropractor After Whiplash?
You should absolutely see a chiropractor after whiplash. Even if you aren’t sure if you have whiplash, but you were in an accident, you should always seek chiropractic care. In fact, not visiting a chiropractor is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to whiplash.
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash helps muscles relearn mobility and allows nerves to coordinate and help your neck move in a better, less painful way.
Chiropractic treatment plays a massive part in helping your neck and body heal after whiplash.
How Does a Chiropractor Diagnose a Whiplash Injury?
Before diving in and treating you for whiplash, your chiropractor will want to evaluate you and make sure whiplash is what is causing your pain.
Chiropractors understand the complexity and interconnectedness of the human body far better than many traditional physicians. This means that they look at more than just the pain point. You can expect your chiropractor to do a full examination of your spine to ensure that there isn’t anything else causing your symptoms.
Your chiropractor may feel your neck and test for points of sensitivity, all in an effort to create a complete picture of your unique situation.
By getting a good look at your spine, your chiropractor can gain an understanding of what is happening and how to best help you.
At Therapia Wellness Clinic, we always do an x-ray on patients who have been involved in an automotive accident. Even if you weren’t in an accident but we suspect whiplash, we will often advocate that you get an x-ray.
X-rays are a great way to know if a patient has whiplash or if there is something else at play.
3 Holistic Treatment Methods That Heal Whiplash
There are many different types of holistic chiropractic treatments for whiplash available to you.
Multidisciplinary clinics, such as Therapia Wellness Clinic, provide a wide range of whiplash treatments. From typical chiropractic options, such as manual therapy, to other modalities — such as acupuncture — the holistic methods employed by our multidisciplinary clinic are great ways to treat whiplash.
#1: Whiplash Chiropractic Treatment Techniques
You are not limited in your treatment options for whiplash. Chiropractors know the human body incredibly well and they specialize in understanding the spine. This makes them well-qualified to treat whiplash through a variety of modalities.
There are three main chiropractic treatment modalities that are commonly used and, in the following sections, we will break each one down so that you know what they are and why they work.
Spinal manipulation — also known as spinal manipulative therapy — is a technique used by chiropractors to move a joint in a way that it would not naturally move on its own. The process involves the practitioner using either their hands or a specially designed instrument to manipulate the joint.
Within spinal manipulation, there are several different types such as:
- The flexion-distraction technique
- Instrument-assisted manipulation
- Specific spinal manipulation
The flexion-distraction technique is a gentler way for your chiropractor to manipulate your spine and help it heal from injury.
This method is used to target herniated and bulging discs which can often be exacerbated — or caused — by whiplash. This method also helps to alleviate whiplash pain.
An instrument-assisted manipulation treatment utilizes special instruments to gently manipulate and push on different parts of the spine without using a forceful thrusting-type of motion.
This is a gentler alternative and is often helpful for older patients with a degenerative joint disorder or patients who are in a lot of pain.
Another common method for treating whiplash is specific spinal manipulation.
When they want to use this technique, a chiropractor will identify specific spinal joints that are not moving properly. Once the joint is identified, the chiropractor can use a gentle thrusting technique to help restore motion to that joint.
This method stretches soft tissues and offers stimulation to the nervous system, allowing normal motion to return within the spine.
Manual Therapy for Soft Tissue Injuries
In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors often use manual therapy on soft tissue injuries to help heal whiplash. There are multiple different types of manual therapy and today we will introduce you to three of them:
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy (such as the Graston technique)
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques
- Trigger point therapy
One form of instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy is the Graston Technique. For this method, your chiropractor will use a tool to deliver gentle, repeated strokes to the affected area.
This method encourages blood flow to the area and stretches the muscles and soft tissue to help restore mobility and comfort. The tool usually resembles a small, ergonomically shaped metal bar.
Another treatment many chiropractors use is manual joint stretching and resistance. One common form of this treatment is called muscle energy therapy.
In this treatment, the chiropractor will instruct you to either push against a specific movement or resist the force they put against your muscle. This will be followed by stretching either the same muscle or the one opposite of it.
This method uses a sort of shortening and then lengthening technique to loosen the muscles and joints and help you on your way to healing from whiplash.
During your assessment, your chiropractor may notice some specific tight (or hypertonic) spots that they want to target with Trigger Point Therapy.
These points are usually painful. Your chiropractor will use their hands, specifically their fingers, to apply pressure directly to the tight spot. This alleviates muscle tension and allows those tight, painful muscles to finally relax.
Therapeutic Treatment to Reduce Inflammation
It seems like every health guru is talking about inflammation and all the terrible things it can bring. This might lead you to ask,
“What exactly is inflammation?”
In short, inflammation is your body’s response to injury or illness.
When our bodies realize that we are injured or detect illness, an attack team of white blood cells is deployed to take out the threat. In many cases, this is good, but sometimes it means huge trouble.
These white blood cells help to fight off illness and infection but they also cause pain and can lead to heart issues and stroke.
When whiplash occurs, inflammation does too. Although your body is trying to help, this particular occurrence of inflammation only causes pain. In order to heal whiplash and alleviate pain, you need to decrease the amount of inflammation.
That’s where interferential electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy come in. These therapeutic treatment methods are able to go deeper than others to address the root of your pain.
Interferential electrical stimulation is a therapy modality that uses low-frequency electrical currents to stimulate inflamed muscles and joints. This therapy is non-invasive and is not painful.
Ultrasound therapy helps to alleviate inflammation by sending sound waves deep into your muscles and joints. This generates a little bit of heat that in turn increases circulation and decreases inflammation. Like interferential electrical stimulation, this modality is painless to some it might feel something like a gentle massage.
Another way to help whiplash is through acupuncture, which helps to:
- Relax joints and muscles
- Decrease inflammation
- Increase circulation
- Help the body release natural pain-relieving hormones
#3: Massage Therapy
Yet another great way to loosen tight joints and muscles and increase blood flow to your problem area is through massage therapy. A massage therapist gently manipulates different parts of your neck, back, and shoulders to help increase flexibility and decrease tension.
The 3 Most Common Mistakes Our Chiropractor Sees When Patients Are in an Auto Accident and May Have Whiplash
Now you know how chiropractors treat whiplash, and you may be wondering:
What should you do if you get whiplash?
Are there common mistakes people tend to make when they have whiplash?
Read on to find the three most common mistakes we see in our office on a regular basis.
#1: Not Seeking Medical Treatment or Waiting Too Long to Do So
Even if it was just a little bump from behind and your car doesn’t even seem to have a scratch, you should still seek medical treatment.
Often, when someone is in a minor accident where both parties are visibly unharmed, people forget that there can be massive injuries under the surface that they don’t see and may not know about for a few days.
By not seeking medical care — or choosing to wait a long time after the accident — people often put themselves at risk of bigger injuries and longer healing times.
If you do have whiplash and don’t seek immediate treatment within the first 72 hours, scar tissue begins to multiply. This can lead to your healing time being tripled within just a few days of the accident.
If you are worried that you cannot afford the care you need — or that your insurance won’t cover it — you should know that, in Oregon, chiropractic care is covered by the personal injury insurance you carry.
That means that your auto insurance policy pays for your chiropractic care post-accident. Seeking chiropractic care after an accident is vital and, in the state of Oregon, financially accessible.
#2: Going to Urgent Care Instead of a Chiropractic Clinic
Sometimes people head straight to urgent care after an accident. This is often a good thing to do, especially if you can tell that you have sustained injuries.
Where people go wrong is deciding that they do not need to see a chiropractor as well.
The doctors in urgent care can only do so much for you. They are busy and must make sure they are treating urgent issues, such as immediately threatening injuries. Additionally, they do not have the resources to treat things like whiplash effectively.
If you are in an accident you should seek medical care for your immediate and urgent injuries.
But make sure you also seek chiropractic care to ensure that you are not suffering from serious spinal injuries, such as whiplash.
#3: Trying to Heal Themselves With At-Home Remedies
Sometimes people decide to try a DIY whiplash remedy.
Let’s look at Carl, as an example:
Carl was in an accident and now has whiplash. He doesn’t want to go to the chiropractor so he decides to deal with it at home. He keeps up a consistent heat and ice regime for the first few hours and then clamps on a neck brace, hoping the support will alleviate his pain and speed up his healing. What Carl doesn’t know is that he just did himself way more harm than good.
Using heat and ice is a great way to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation and it is highly possible that your chiropractor will even recommend it.
What Carl didn’t know is that using something like a neck brace to immobilize his neck after whiplash was a detrimental decision.
You must maintain mobility in your neck if you want to heal from whiplash, and a neck brace doesn’t offer that mobility.
Sure, you can ice your neck or use a heating pad, but that will not heal whiplash. Choosing to simply try and treat it at home instead of seeking chiropractic care is a sure way to make your whiplash even worse.
Are You in SW Portland and Have a Whiplash Injury? Whiplash Chiropractic Care from Therapia Wellness Clinic Could Provide the Relief You’re Looking For
Chiropractic treatment for whiplash is essential to overcoming whiplash. But finding the right chiropractor can be hard.
If you are in South West Portland and need help with your whiplash injury, look no further than Therapia Wellness Clinic. We are a multi-disciplinary clinic, meaning we specialize in helping you through methods including, but not limited to, chiropractic, acupuncture, and more.
At Therapia, you can rest assured that you are getting the highest quality care from a team that understands your needs.
Contact us with questions or schedule an appointment today and find relief from your whiplash injury.