Whiplash injuries are not something to ignore. Fortunately there are alternative treatments for this condition.
What is Whiplash?
Typically caused by automobile collisions, whiplash is an injury to the neck. The neck becomes injured when it is suddenly moved back and forward, stretching ligaments and muscles out of their usual range of motion. Icing the neck muscles, taking pain relievers, and physical therapy are the general treatments. Some patients may develop chronic pain from this condition.1 A car doesn’t have to be moving fast for a whiplash injury to occur. Even 15 miles per hour is enough that the sudden jolt causes problems. The upper back, bones, and nerves are also affected by whiplash, including the cervical vertebrae of the spine. The 4 phases of the whiplash injury are the initial (pre-collision) position, as well as “retraction, extension, and rebound”. There are many symptoms that come from whiplash injuries, such as headaches, “pins and needles”, neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain. There are even cognitive symptoms, including feeling irritated or distracted. Studies have shown that “the best way of recovery is to include an active rehabilitation program” instead of using a cervical collar. Active treatments include repetitive exercises, with movements such as cervical rotation and shoulder flexion and extension. Patients are given instructions about how not to damage the neck while doing these exercises.2 It is not unusual for patients to see chiropractic professionals to receive treatments and exercise instructions. Chiropractors are experts in musculoskeletal care.3
Massage for Whiplash
Massage therapy is another option for whiplash care, and it may be a complement to other treatments. Massage therapists can provide clients with relief of muscular pain. Massage is also a way to improve circulation in the body so that nutrients and oxygen can reach the damaged tissues and speed the healing. The fascia can have its fluidity restored through “myofascial approaches”. This allows ligaments and muscles to move more freely as fascia is “a slippery tissue that surrounds…moving parts” in the body. Scar tissue can be broken up by “friction-based massage”. Friction massage is also helpful for relieving stiffness. Another type of massage, “trigger point therapy”, could be used to release tension in tight muscle knots. Massage is helpful for preventing and easing headaches, as well. Psychologically, massage could help patients relax from the trauma of the initial accident.4
Acupuncture for Whiplash
Acupuncture is another alternative treatment option for whiplash. It helps to relieve pain and reduce tension in the muscles. Acupuncture is also said to be useful for ligaments and tendons, which are “more stubborn to recover”. Like massage, acupuncture improves circulation by promoting blood flow. Chiropractors and acupuncturists may work together with patients who have “cervical spine alignment problems”.5 A recent study has found that acupuncture is effective in treating whiplash injuries, leading the researchers to “advocate acupuncture for balance disorders due to cervical pathology”.6
Get more information regarding chiropractic care and whiplash.