Our San Francisco Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic has been providing treatment for whiplash injuries for many years. We specialize in helping patients recover from auto accidents, bicycle accidents, slips and falls, and sports-related injuries. We are whiplash experts.

What is Whiplash injury?

Whiplash injury, sometimes called neck strain or sprain, is a type of neck injury caused by a sudden and forceful movement of the head forward, backward or sideway. The sudden force causes stretching and tearing of the muscles and tendons in the neck. The symptoms include pain, headaches and tenderness and most often occurs during a motor vehicle accident (MVA).

motor vehicle accident auto car crash

Usually this condition is self-limited and gets better within a few weeks, but in some people the pain becomes chronic and long-lasting complications appear.

How Does Whiplash Injury Occur?

Whiplash injury occurs when muscles and tendons in the neck are extended more than their normal range of movement. This sudden motion, forwards, backwards or sideways, cause overstretching or tearing of these soft tissues.

As noted before, whiplash injuries most often are associated with car accidents, but there are lots of other reasons, and some of them include:

  • Contact sports (such as football and boxing)
  • Physical abuse or assault (like shaking or punching in the head)
  • Falls (especially in the elderly)
  • Horseback riding
  • Being struck on the head

Not everyone that goes through these accidents will have a whiplash injury. Risk factors that determine who is more prone to have a whiplash injury include:

  • How did the accident happen (severity of collision, being hit from behind by another car or when your car is stopped, sudden braking)
  • Female gender
  • Younger age
  • History of neck pain or previous neck injuries

What Are Whiplash Injury Symptoms?

Symptoms from whiplash injury usually develop within 24 hours of the injury, but sometimes it can take longer. Even up to few days. Most common symptoms include:

  • Neck pain that is nagging. Sometimes the pain is immediate, but in other cases, it needs time to develop.
  • Pain gets worse with movement
  • Neck stiffness
  • Loss of range of motion of the neck 
  • Headaches, usually at the base of the skull
  • TMJ pain
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Buzzing in the ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory disturbances

Soft tissue injuries sustained from whiplash trauma are a primary cause of chronic headaches, neck and back pain. Not to mention, extremity injuries to the shoulders and hips. In fact, statistics illustrate 40% of all people with chronic neck pain trace the problem to a previous whiplash injury.

If you have any of these symptoms after a sports or car accident, or any other neck injury, see your sports chiropractor immediately. He/She would want to examine you to rule out more severe injuries like broken ribs or bones, brain concussion or nerve injury.

Most people with whiplash injury recover fast and feel better within weeks, but some continue to feel chronic pain and tenderness even a few months or years after the injury. It’s difficult to predict the recovery, as all people reacts differently. But, it is more likely that a person will have long-lasting complications if the injury was more severe, symptoms developed fast and the pain was intense and spread to the arms.

Risk factors linked with worse outcome include older age, previous neck injuries, existing neck or low back pain.

“Sometimes…A victim may feel no symptoms at all”

Sometimes right after a car accident, a victim feels no symptoms at all. The adrenaline kicks in. The victim is more concerned about their car or getting to work on time. If there is a passenger, they may worry about their well-being instead of their own. But then the next day the whiplash symptoms kick in…and they kick in hard. This is actually very common.

Diagnosing Whiplash

When it comes to whiplash injuries, time is of the essence. Permanent damage can occur and scar tissue can develop very quickly without proper treatment in as little as 48 hours.

The best thing to do if you are rear-ended or involved in any kind of a motor vehicle collision/auto accident is to get yourself to an office of a sports chiropractor as soon as possible.

The diagnosis process for whiplash injury consists of:

Medical history – the chiropractor will ask questions about the event of the accident and your symptoms.

Physical examination – the chiropractor will touch and move your neck, head, and arms to determine the range of motion, degree of motion that causes pain, neck tenderness and stiffness, reflexes and if there is some palpable deformity.

Imaging tests – most likely will show normal results, but your chiropractor will order them to rule out some more serious conditions. These tests include X-ray, MRI, and CT scan.

What Is The Best Whiplash Treatment?

Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery time may vary. Most of the cases will resolve within few days or weeks, but other will last longer.

The goals of the whiplash treatment are lessening the pain and restoring normal range of motion in the neck.

Pain Management

There are more options that can help you manage the pain. Here are a few:

  • Rest – bed rest should be practiced only in the first 24 hours after the injury. Bed rest in the later phases of the injury can lead to delayed recovery.
  • Hot and cold packs – using hot or cold pads, or both alternately can reduce the pain.
  • Natural painkillers – such as peppermint and lavender oil and ginger tea.
  • Over-the-counter painkillers – such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen can reduce mild to moderate pain.
  • Antidepressant – people with more severe pain will benefit from some antidepressant drugs.
  • Muscle relaxants – We carry Formula 303 at our San Francsco Clinic.
  • Injections – injections with local numbing medicine are often used  to decrease pain so that physical therapy can be performed.

Corrective Exercises

Your chiropractor will show you a few corrective exercises you can perform at home, which will help you to restore the range of motion and to gain strength and flexibility in the neck. This will help you to get back to your normal activities sooner.

Exercises may include rotating the neck in both directions, tilting the head side to side and forward-backward and rolling the shoulders.

If you experience pain try putting warm pads on the neck or taking warm shower before exercise, this should relax the muscles and reduce the pain.P

Physical Therapy

Exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve the posture, and in some cases transcutaneous nerve stimulation (TENS) can be used to manage the pain and speed up the recovery.

Chiropractic Care

As a spine, back and neck specialist, our SF chiropractor can help you to cope with the pain and reduce the chances of long-term complications, especially when combined with physical therapy.

AcupunctureA

Acupuncture is an old Chinese method which involves inserting thin needles through the skin, in specific spots of the body and is used to relieve the pain. 

MassageM

Neck massage may also provide short-term pain relief, but note that it should always be practiced by professionals.

At Truspine we are experts in treating whiplash injuries and therefore, will help you every step of the way. Our extensive network of San Francisco occupational therapists, medical doctors, and bodyworkers spend all day helping patients with soft tissue injuries. We also use advanced treatment methods and technology such as ultrasound therapy. This therapy can accelerate soft tissue healing and help reduce pain.

In addition, our staff can fill-out any reports your auto medical (med pay) insurance may need to process your claim. Not to mention, we can help you find a personal injury attorney if you need one.

Our success rates are very high. If you are looking for whiplash relief and would like to find out if you are a candidate for our treatment we would like to meet you. To schedule an appointment with our San Francisco Chiropractor, please call 415–415–1115 or book an appointment online.

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