Can a Chiropractor Help With Whiplash? How Visiting a Chiropractor Can Allow You to Heal From Your Injury

You’re headed home after a long day at the office.

Traffic is finally picking up when the car in front of you stops short.

Fortunately, you were paying attention, but the car behind you wasn’t so lucky.

Being in a car accident can be frustrating and confusing, especially when you don’t feel the effect on your body until afterward.

Whiplash can sneak up on you even after you were sure you felt fine.

It may be a doctor’s recommendation or time and finances that make seeing a chiropractor a more practical option.

The good news is, a chiropractor can diagnose and help treat your whiplash.

Continue reading to find out how visiting a chiropractor can allow you to heal from your injury along with:

  • 3 components of chiropractic treatment for whiplash
  • Whiplash chiropractic treatment techniques
  • How long to see a chiropractor
  • Lifestyle changes and at-home treatments to support your whiplash chiropractic care

Table of Contents

How Does a Chiropractor Diagnose a Whiplash Injury?

Chances are, if you’re reading this guide, you’re already familiar with the neck pain caused by whiplash.

The injury to the neck muscles caused by the rapid forward and backward motion from a car accident can leave you feeling acute pain accompanied by stiffness and limited movement.

The onset of the pain from a whiplash injury can be immediate or delayed.

But a trip to the chiropractor can provide you with a diagnosis of whiplash injury and a clear treatment plan.

First, the chiropractor will evaluate the health of your entire spine, which can be affected by a whiplash injury.

The chiropractor will analyze your walk, posture, and spinal alignment to help the diagnosis process by painting a clearer picture of your personal body mechanics.

Next, the chiropractor will identify any areas of …

  • Limited mobility
  • Muscle spasm
  • Ligament injury 
  • Intervertebral disc injuries

… and any other areas of tightness or pain.

Lastly, the chiropractor may also order an x-ray or MRI to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

3 Components of Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash

Chiropractic treatment for whiplash should be a holistic approach. 

At Cascade Spine & Injury Center, we practice a multi-disciplinary method aimed at integrating all aspects of healing.

The Cascade Spine and Injury Center three-pronged formula includes:

  • Patient education
  • Lifestyle inventory
  • Treatment

 #1: Patient Education

Patient education is the key to understanding how to play an active role in recovery. 

Education includes teaching the patient with information like …

  • How to stretch
  • When to stretch
  • How to ice

… along with activities that may foster or delay healing.

#2: Lifestyle Inventory

A full inventory of the patient’s lifestyle is discussed including:

  • Day-to-day activities
  • Physical aspects involved in work
  • Living circumstances
  • Sleeping situations

An optimization plan is developed to create an individualized healing environment for the patient.

#3: Treatment

The chiropractor begins initial treatments with light adjustments on the spine and taps with an instrument which loosens the joints without the twisting, popping, or cracking that comes to mind with typical chiropractic services.

Each visit starts with basic stretches and progresses to more challenging, complex stretches.

As the patient’s condition improves, the focus is shifted to … 

  • Strengthening
  • Balance training; and 
  • Coordination

… to ensure functional mobility is restored to its original capacity.

6 Whiplash Chiropractic Treatment Techniques

No two whiplash injuries are the same, so a one-size-fits-all whiplash treatment will not address each individual’s needs. 

It’s important that each injury is thoroughly assessed to create a tailored treatment plan. 

There are more than 100 types of adjustment techniques utilized in chiropractic care for whiplash. 

Continue reading for details on the most commonly used techniques that can be used individually or combined to treat whiplash injuries. 

#1: Reduce Inflammation

Ultrasound therapy and interferential electrical stimulation are therapies that are commonly used to reduce inflammation in the neck and back caused by whiplash.

In addition to reducing inflammation, ultrasound therapy helps to heal various types of muscle pain, spasms, and tension by warming the tissue slightly with sound waves

The healing process is assisted by the increased circulation stimulated by the warmth the ultrasound therapy provides.

Interferential electrical stimulation uses a gentle and safe electrical current to activate muscles and reduce inflammation.

#2: Spinal Manipulation

Spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment is the most common whiplash treatment for joint dysfunction. 

With this treatment, the chiropractor first identifies the neck joints that are misaligned.

Most are familiar with a common type of spinal manipulation called specific spinal manipulation. 

This refers to the technique of thrusting in the direction of an area of subluxation, or misalignment in the spine. 

The chiropractor mobilizes the restricted joints with either a short, controlled sudden force or a slow, gentle movement realigning the spine, often resulting in an audible pop. 

The patient may also experience a herniated or bulging disc as a result of the whiplash injury. 

In this case, the chiropractor will employ a flexion-distraction technique, which is a gentle, non-thrusting spinal manipulation designed to relieve pressure from the herniated discs.

#3: Stretches and Other Strengthening Exercises

Chiropractors will often employ stretches and other strengthening exercises to treat whiplash injuries.

Muscle relaxation or stimulation starts with gentle stretches to the muscles experiencing excessive tension or repeated contractions.

If the muscle is very tight, the chiropractor may apply a more vigorous stretch or gentle finger pressure techniques on trigger points to relieve the pain in the tight muscles.

Chiropractors will also prescribe stretches and exercises aimed at reducing pain in the affected muscles. 

These exercises also strengthen the overall area and increase blood circulation to restore normal range of motion in the neck.

#4: Stabilization/Sensorimotor Activities and McKenzie Exercises

Some chiropractors utilize stabilization and sensorimotor activities along with McKenzie exercises to treat whiplash patients.

Stabilization and sensorimotor exercises train the nervous system to improve movement patterns by correcting incorrect movement patterns in day-to-day activities. 

This allows the muscles in the neck to provide better stability and coordination in the neck.

The McKenzie method involves assessment, treatment, and prevention exercises with the central idea that self-healing and self-treatment play an integral role in the patient’s rehabilitation.

McKenzie exercises are easily transitioned from the office to home, allowing the patient to take an active role in their recovery.

These simple movements are designed to reduce disc derangement in whiplash injuries without the use of passive modalities like:

  • Heat
  • Cold
  • Ultrasound
  • Medicine; or 
  • Needles 

Both types of exercises can help heal injuries from major traumas like car accidents or micro-traumas associated with minor movements like faulty body mechanics.

#5: Use of Modalities

Complementary modalities can be utilized to aid in the recovery process, including:

  • Electric muscle stimulation for reduced pain and muscle tightness.
  • Ultrasound to diminish tendon irritation.
  • Laser therapy to cultivate the healing process.
  • Heat and ice therapy to improve blood flow.

#6: In-House Massage Therapy and Acupuncture

Massage therapy services can contribute to improved muscle and tendon range of motion. 

Acupuncture has been proven to increase healing and reduce pain along with other side effects of the injury.

Cascade Spine & Injury Center offers services like massage therapy and acupuncture in-house with chiropractic services to create a one-stop-shop to address every aspect of recovery.

How Long Should I See a Chiropractor for Whiplash?

Each whiplash injury is different from the next and unfortunately, there is no general recommended length of treatment. 

Factors like severity, additional or past injuries, and how you respond to treatment can contribute to the amount of time recommended by the chiropractor. 

Whiplash often occurs along with other injuries, misalignments, or conditions that must be treated holistically to be properly addressed.

The average recovery time from whiplash can vary from six weeks to six months. Still, periodic visits to a chiropractor during that time are imperative to the recovery process. 

As treatment continues, your chiropractor will continually assess your pain levels, range of motion, and progress to make needed adjustments.

Discontinuing treatment early can cause your injury to return or even become worse.

Lifestyle Changes and At-Home Treatments That Will Support Whiplash Chiropractic Care

It’s important the patient not only understands their injury and treatment but also how their regular lifestyle activities may contribute to or get in the way of their recovery.

Whiplash chiropractic care can provide an in-depth plan of recovery along with instructions for treatments that can easily be transitioned from the office to home to promote healing.

Cascade Spine & Injury Center: Your Go-To for Whiplash Chiropractic Care

If you are experiencing whiplash pain from an auto accident or another event, Cascade Spine & Injury Center is here to guide you through every step of your recovery.

Cascade Spine & Injury Center provides top-notch treatments for your whiplash, including:

  • Chiropractic care — Utilizing advanced treatment techniques like Diversified Motion Palpitation, Drop Table, and Instrument Adjusting
  • Massage therapy — Loosens tight muscles, increases flexibility, and reduces pain
  • Acupuncture — Allows your body to heal itself while reducing pain and restoring full function
  • Exercise rehab — Stretches and exercises that are tailored to each patient designed to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance
  • Treatment modalities — Utilizing therapies like hot laser, ultrasound, interferential current, traction, and more

As the leading accident and injury chiropractic clinic in Portland, the experts at Cascade Spine & Injury Center offer quick, comprehensive, and effective treatments for all types of injuries.

Don’t spend another day in pain. 

Book an appointment today to begin the recovery process and leave your whiplash injury in the rear view mirror.

Leave a Comment