Whiplash

Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. It's caused by the neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa, due to a sudden force or movement that strains your neck and spine, damaging bone, muscle, ligaments and nerves.

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Your Guide to Understanding Whiplash

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury resulting from a sudden back-and-forth movement of the neck, often resembling the cracking of a whip. This commonly occurs in car accidents or during high-impact sports. Symptoms may include neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and in some cases, dizziness or difficulty concentrating, and typically require medical evaluation and treatment.

How can Chiropractic help treat Whiplash?

Chiropractors may utilize spinal adjustments, mobilization techniques, and muscle therapy to address whiplash-related neck pain and stiffness. These treatments aim to restore mobility, alleviate discomfort, and promote healing in the affected area. Additionally, chiropractors might recommend exercises and ergonomic adjustments to support the recovery process.

What causes Whiplash?

Whiplash is commonly caused by sudden, forceful back-and-forth movement of the neck, such as those experienced in rear-end car accidents, sports injuries, physical abuse, and other types of trauma. The injury can result from the neck bending forcibly forward and then backward, or vice versa, leading to damage to the bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves in the neck and spine.

What treatments might help Whiplash?

Treatment for whiplash aims to alleviate pain, restore range of motion, and promote healing. Common approaches include pain management through over-the-counter or prescription medications to reduce pain and inflammation, physical therapy involving stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility and muscle function in the neck, chiropractic care for spinal manipulation and mobilization techniques to restore movement and alleviate pain, massage therapy for soft tissue manipulation to reduce muscle tension and improve circulation in the affected area, and heat and cold therapy through alternating applications to manage pain and reduce inflammation.

Supportive devices such as neck braces or collars may be prescribed for a short period to support the neck and limit motion, while education on proper posture, ergonomics, and exercises is often provided to prevent further injury. In some cases, corticosteroid injections into the soft tissues of the neck can provide relief, and acupuncture may also be used to alleviate pain and promote healing.

Signs of Whiplash:

The signs of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Shoulder pain
  • Low back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the arm or hand
  • Numbness in the arm or hand
  • Tenderness in the neck
  • Difficulty moving the head
  • Blurred vision
  • Constant tiredness

Symptoms of Whiplash:

Whiplash symptoms typically manifest as neck pain and stiffness, often worsening with neck movement. Individuals may experience a limited range of motion in the neck, headaches originating from the base of the skull, and tenderness in the neck area. Additional symptoms can include shoulder and lower back pain, dizziness, arm or hand pain, numbness in the extremities, and difficulty moving the head. Some individuals also report blurred vision and persistent fatigue. It's crucial to seek medical attention if any of these symptoms develop following an incident that may have caused whiplash, such as a car accident or physical trauma.

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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Whiplash?

The right time to see a chiropractor for whiplash can vary, but it's generally recommended to seek chiropractic care soon after being diagnosed with whiplash, such as within 72 hours of the accident. Typically, periodic visits to a chiropractor may be needed throughout the recovery period, which can range from six weeks to six months. Additionally, it's important to consider immediate chiropractic care if specific symptoms of whiplash, such as neck pain, arise shortly after the injury.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
Interior Lobby at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic in Mississauga