Whiplash is an injury to the neck that injures the soft tissues. It occurs when there is a sudden jarring motion to the body. The most common occurrence of whiplash is from a car accident. This type of injury can happen from any type of car accident, but especially from getting rear ended.
With the impact of an accident, the head goes forward and is then “whipped” backwards in a very fast movement. This injury can be even more traumatic if the head is turned at the time of impact. This is known as a lateral flexion whiplash injury. When the head is turned, the spinal musculature and joints are at increased risk for injury simply due to positioning.
Though fractures can occur in a whiplash injury, the soft tissues are most commonly the source of pain. The muscles in the neck, both in the front and in the back, are strained from the jarring motion. Additionally, the trapezius, levator scapulae, and upper back muscles that attach to the neck are often strained. Muscles that attach to the jaw can also be affected in the accident.
Signs and symptoms of a whiplash injury
– Neck Stiffness and Pain
– Jaw pain
– Balance issues
– Pain with turning the head
It is important to get evaluated if you have had a whiplash injury. Left untreated, soft tissue injuries can become chronic in nature. This can cause pain and mobility issues for years down the road.
Treatment for whiplash
Treatment for whiplash should be directed at the soft tissue and misalignment in the spine. When the injury occurs, the vertebrae are forced into the wrong position. This misalignment is known as a subluxation and is treated by chiropractors. However, your treatment should not stop at a chiropractic adjustment.
Using techniques that address the soft tissue injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments will speed the healing process. Treating the injury sooner rather than later can prevent long term symptoms.
Soft tissue techniques for whiplash from a car accident
This technique uses instruments to massage the soft tissues. It is a deep treatment that can get through layers of “knots” in muscles. Graston provides immediate pain relief and improved range of motion in most cases.
This is a treatment that focuses on breaking up the tension in muscles with the use of acupuncture needles. By affecting the muscle in addition to the nervous system, muscle tension and pain decrease during treatment. It speeds soft tissue healing and recovery.
Cervical traction stretches the muscles in the neck and increases space in between the vertebrae in the spine. This takes pressure off of nerves in the neck and helps the muscles to relax. It is especially helpful if you have pain radiating from your neck into your arms or upper back.
Ultrasound is used therapeutically for severe injuries and pain. It is different from the ultrasound that provides imaging for medical professionals. A small wand containing a vibrating head inside produces sound waves. When massaged over your muscles, this decreases inflammation, pain, and muscle spasm.
Electric Muscle Stimulation
Electric muscle stimulation is the use of electrical impulses that feels like a tingly massage. Small electrodes are placed on the muscles. The electrodes help to increase the natural pain killers in the body, namely endorphins and enkephalins. This gives you pain relief, more relaxed muscles, and holding your chiropractic adjustment longer.
Cupping is using small cups on tight muscles. Suction of the tissues increases blood flow and decreases restriction in the tissues. This leads to pain relief and improved range of motion.
Stretching tight muscles after all of the soft tissue therapy helps to maintain mobility. When the spine is more stable, strengthening protocols are used to improve the stability of the spine. This important part of your care helps in maintaining your adjustment, keeping your spinal muscles strong, and preventing future pain.
Soft tissue therapy at Functional Health Unlimited
If you have been in a car accident, you want to see a qualified provider who offers a variety of soft tissue treatments. These are all techniques that we use at Functional Health Unlimited. Contact us if you would like to hear how we can help you.