Whiplash or WAD (Whiplash Associated Disorder) is a serious condition that can affect an individual’s activities of daily living and their overall quality of life. Most people associate whiplash with an automobile accident and that of course is the number one way to receive whiplash; however, whiplash (WAD) can also be from other accidents including: falls from ladders, roofs, horses, bicycles, skiing and diving accidents, etc. The signs of symptoms of WAD can be very vague immediately following the accident. Some sufferers don’t even seek medical care because their completely pain-free. However, the hours following the accident and typically the next day, victims complain of increased pain in the neck, head, shoulders, headaches, pins and needles in their neck sometimes traveling down their arm into the hands, and even light sensitivity.
In Whiplash, the muscles and ligaments of the neck get stretched with the acceleration and deceleration and the tiny cervical spine bones can even fracture dislodging segments into free space. This type of injury, called a tear-drop fracture is extremely unstable and must be treated with a hard cervical collar and possible surgery to correct. In contrast, most whiplash cases are not severely unstable and can be treated through the use of Chiropractic care. The Chiropractor will assess the extent of damage through palpation, range of motion evaluation, orthopedic testing, and x-rays if needed. He/she will then establish a treatment protocol based on the severity of injury and whether it’s acute or chronic. They will most likely apply some form of hydrotherapy and of course manipulate the cervical spine. Massage therapy is also an excellent adjunct to treating Whiplash. The anterior and posterior muscles of the cervical spine get stretched causing micro-tears within the muscle. Once the patient is no longer in the acute stage, massage therapy may be administered in accordance to the severity of the whiplash and the patient’s pain tolerance. The massage therapist may also incorporate stretching and trigger point release in order to further release tension. A Whiplash of even five miles per hour can take a normal cervical spine and completely reverse the curvature. When this is visible on x-ray, cervical mechanical traction should be introduced as soon as the musculature has had adequate time to heal. Cervical mechanical traction stretches the deformed ligaments allowing the bones to move and the muscles to maintain in a normal stance. Ligaments are elastic and very resilient to change; a ligament doesn’t even begin to stretch until six minutes of traction. This is slowly increased in gradual steps to a maximum of twenty minutes.
See more about chiro care after whiplash.