Have you recently been diagnosed with whiplash? Are you searching for an alternative treatment option that does not include taking meds and “waiting for it to heal”?
You’ve probably heard of acupuncture for whiplash-associated disorder, and you likely have some questions:
- How does acupuncture help?
- Will it help?
We are here to answer your questions and show you a little bit of the science behind why acupuncture for whiplash is both effective and ideal.
Table of Contents
- Does Acupuncture Help Whiplash Injury?
- How Does Acupuncture Help Treat Whiplash?
- 4 Benefits of Acupuncture for Whiplash
- Acupuncture for Whiplash: What to Expect at Your First Appointment
- Schedule Your Acupuncture for Whiplash Treatment With Cascade Spine & Injury Today
Does Acupuncture Help Whiplash Injury?
Yes, acupuncture can — and does — help with whiplash. Using acupuncture for whiplash-associated disorders is a great way to alleviate pain, inflammation, and tension. While it may be a less traditional route, acupuncture has been revered for centuries as a safe, effective treatment option.
How Does Acupuncture Help Treat Whiplash?
Acupuncture has been used for centuries and is the process of inserting incredibly thin needles into the body at different acupoints to treat different conditions.
Acupuncture helps to treat whiplash in a variety of ways. From relaxing soft tissue to decreasing inflammation, acupuncture gets to the root of the pain instead of simply treating the symptoms.
When tension and pain are reduced, the body can more readily heal, and other treatments (such as chiropractic care) are more likely to be effective.
Acupuncture alone might not cure your whiplash, but it is an effective method of pain relief and it can help to promote natural healing.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is said to balance the body’s life flow or life force, called chi or qi. It is believed that this force flows through different meridians in your body and that the insertion of these needles into these meridians can help to regulate the flow of chi.
Most Western practitioners take a different, more scientific approach and see acupuncture as a way of stimulating muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. It is also believed that acupuncture helps to release your body’s natural painkillers.
Regardless of the reason, the facts cannot be ignored; acupuncture works and it does so in a few different ways.
It Helps Soft Tissues Relax
One way that acupuncture helps whiplash is by relaxing soft tissue.
Soft tissue includes your:
- Fibrous tissue
- Lymph and blood vessels
- Synovial membranes
Soft tissue is everywhere in your body, and when it is tense and injured, you can feel it.
Whiplash is considered a soft tissue neck injury that affects the neck, shoulders, and upper back. The pain and tightness can even lead to pain in other areas such as the arms and lower back.
While the exact reasoning and science behind acupuncture are somewhat disputed, it is widely believed that acupuncture may help to release endorphins — endogenous opioid neuropeptides and peptide hormones that are the body’s natural pain killers. This may create a chain reaction that affects the part of the brain that produces serotonin, also known as one of the major “happy hormones.”
Relaxing the soft tissues enables the brain to better produce these hormones.
It Increases Circulation and Decreases Inflammation
Using acupuncture stimulates the body’s supply of nitric oxide, a biochemical that helps to increase circulation.
The more nitric oxide, the more blood circulation. As circulation increases, more oxygen and nutrients reach the affected area, thus reducing inflammation and increasing healing.
As blood flow increases, inflammation decreases, and the area can heal.
It Helps Decrease Pain
When inflammation decreases, pain also decreases.
As the soft tissue relaxes and the tension is released, you will likely notice that the area is less sore. Acupuncture is also an effective way to decrease the sharp pain associated with whiplash.
It Helps Facilitate Chiropractic Care
Seeking chiropractic care for whiplash injuries is both wise and useful. Chiropractic care can go a long way in healing whiplash.
When your muscles are tight or holding on to tension it is harder for chiropractic care to be effective. The muscles tend to tense up around the spine and make it difficult for the adjustment to help as it should.
Acupuncture helps relieve tension and loosen muscles, allowing your chiropractor to treat your injuries.
4 Benefits of Acupuncture for Whiplash
There are several benefits of using acupuncture points for whiplash treatments that you should be aware of as you consider acupuncture therapy.
#1: It’s Virtually Pain-Free
When people hear that someone is going to be sticking needles into their skin and leaving them there, they often get nervous. After all, needles are typically associated with pain.
While acupuncture does use needles, you don’t need to be afraid of pain from them. The needles used are approximately the same thickness as a single human hair. They are typically made from high-quality stainless steel and are sterile and safe.
Thanks to their small size, many patients do not even feel the needles at all. You might experience a mild, dull ache once the needle reaches the needed depth; however, even this is incredibly mild and less than common.
#2: It Can Be an Effective Alternative Treatment to Pharmaceuticals
Whiplash is almost always accompanied by severe pain and discomfort. In the more traditional medical world, this pain is typically treated with either over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin), or prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants.
These heavier drugs can come with unfavorable side effects and may be addictive.
Instead of introducing new chemicals into your body, acupuncture works with your body’s natural healing system to:
- Relieve pain
- Heal strained muscles; and
- Promote faster and more complete recovery
#3: It Can Help Stimulate Natural Healing Within the Body
Inflammation and tension are enemies to healing and restoration within the body. Acupuncture helps to reduce these factors and promote natural healing.
It is believed that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system — which results in the release of natural chemicals into the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.
This is called a biochemical change and is thought to do many things, including:
- Stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities
- Promoting overall physical health
- Encouraging general emotional wellbeing
Additionally, acupuncture helps to relieve tension and soften soft tissue — which allows better blood flow to affected areas, leading to improved healing.
#4: It Has Minimal Risk for Side Effects
Because acupuncture is a natural and holistic healing approach, there are minimal side effects involved. Even these side effects are rarely serious and often only partially negative.
It’s minimal, but Acupuncture could lead to:
- Increased symptoms — Sometimes your symptoms get worse before they get better.
- Soreness — Acupuncture often releases a trigger point that can leave you feeling sore for a few days.
- Muscle twitching — Sometimes manipulation of different acupoints leads to twitching muscles. Your acupuncturist can help alleviate this.
- Emotional release — Acupuncture can be a physically and mentally straining experience, especially if you have any anxiety during your session. You might find that you experience an emotional release that might even include crying.
- Bruising — Occasionally bruising occurs at the puncture site. It is usually minor and is rarely anything to be concerned about.
Even these side effects are minor and often go away within a day or two.
Acupuncture for Whiplash: What to Expect at Your First Appointment
At Cascade Spine and Injury Center, acupuncture for whiplash-associated disorder is a common treatment method.
When you come in, our priority is your care and comfort.
We make it a point to thoroughly explain the process before we even start:
- At your first appointment, your acupuncturist will perform a full health assessment, paying special attention to your areas of concern.
- They will create a customized care plan designed specifically for you and your needs that takes into account your injuries and personal recovery goals.
- Once your questions have been answered and you are feeling ready for the treatment to begin, your acupuncturist will make sure you are comfortable and relaxed as they begin the treatment.
Many patients find that acupuncture is a relaxing and even restful experience and that it helps them holistically, not just with their injuries.
Where Are Acupuncture Needles Placed for Whiplash Treatment?
Acupuncture points for whiplash can be found in the:
- Hands; and
Sometimes, the needles are placed directly into the head or neck. And other times, an acupoint in the arm, hand, leg, or foot is stimulated instead.
The positioning depends on both the type of injury and its severity, as well as your comfort level with the treatment.
How Long Does Acupuncture for Whiplash Treatment Take?
The typical treatment session lasts around 45 minutes, but the exact time will depend on your injuries and their severity.
Everyone responds slightly differently to acupuncture, and your response can affect the length of your treatment.
Schedule Your Acupuncture for Whiplash Appointment at Cascade Spine & Injury Center Today
Here at Cascade, we are committed to your health and wellbeing; it’s why we’re here!
We offer acupuncture therapy from qualified and caring professionals.
Acupuncture for whiplash is safe and effective.
Schedule your appointment today and begin healing from your whiplash injuries.