What a chiropractor does for whiplash

Q: Exactly what is whiplash and what does a chiropractor do for it?

A: All whiplash cases involve injuries to the neck caused by a sudden, jerking movement of the head forward, backward or sideways. Whiplash injuries are complex because they affect muscles, ligaments, spinal nerves, bones and discs.

Whiplash causes the muscles and other supportive tissues of the neck to become overstretched or even torn, which results in swelling. The neck vertebrae can be forced out of proper alignment leading to such problems as disc damage and pinched nerves. Because whiplash is so complex, a chiropractor will need to conduct a thorough examination, take x-rays and ask you details about your symptoms as well as how the whiplash injury occurred.

Chiropractors care for whiplash injuries by first working to reduce inflammation. Ways to do this include ice therapy and the use of therapeutic ultrasound. The next objective is to gradually regain proper function of the joints and tissues of the neck. This is accomplished by specific adjustments to affected vertebrae. Stretching or strengthening exercises may also be given during the course of care.

Chiropractors pay particular attention to restoring the normal forward curvature of the neck, as this curvature is almost always disrupted after a whiplash injury. The benefit of restoring the correct neck curvature and alignment is the reduction of stress or strain on discs, nerves and muscles and any associated pain.