Bottom Line: Your spine is a long chain of bones, discs, muscles, and ligaments that extend from your skull down to your tailbone. The cervical spine – better known as your neck - is designed to support your head and protects the nerves that connect to your face, shoulders, and arms. Whiplash injuries can create damage to these delicate structures and can cause symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, stiffness, shoulder pain, numberless, and tingling / pain into the arms and hands.
Why it Matters: Even minor damage to the ligaments of your neck (a hallmark of whiplash) can take up to 12 weeks to heal. Depending on the severity of the ligament tearing, these injuries may also be classified as permanent. Significant damage to the supporting ligaments is known as spinal instability, and it's essential to limit any inflammation early on in your treatment and to improve your range of motion. While it may seem strange that movement can be a good thing even if it may hurt, know that carefully controlled movement can limit the amount of scar tissue that forms and may even increase the rate of healing.
Obtaining an accurate diagnosis through a complete examination and spinal imaging is the first step towards determining the best plan of care to heal your injuries.
Inflammation is one of the primary factors that causes pain and restricted movement after sustaining a whiplash injury.
Controlling inflammation naturally and re-establishing your range of motion can reduce your pain and improve the results of your care.
Next Steps: Chiropractors take a holistic approach to helping you recover from whiplash by examining and treating the injured muscles, ligaments, discs, and more. By focusing on improving your movement, biomechanics, and functional ability - while reducing your pain – it’s no wonder that Chiropractors are considered an essential part of a person’s healthcare team especially after an auto accident.
Science Source(s): The Treatment of Neck Pain-Associated Disorders and Whiplash-Associated Disorders: A Clinical Practice Guideline. JMPT. 2016.