After a car accident, it is not uncommon for victims to visit a chiropractor. Even if a person does not sustain visible or life-threatening injuries, car accidents often result in tissue, nerve and joint damage. This can lead to chronic pain, discomfort and other side effects, such as headaches, fatigue and the inability to concentrate. A common problem people deal with after a car accident is neck pain, which a chiropractor may help alleviate.
Whiplash: The most common type of neck injury
When individuals experience neck pain after an accident, it is most likely associated with whiplash. This injury of the neck or spinal cord results from the rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. Though whiplash can occur in several situations, such as a sports game or on a roller coaster, the most common cause of the condition is automobile accidents. Symptoms typically begin to arise within 24 to 48 hours post-accident although some individuals experience indications right away. Symptoms range from uncomfortable to painful and may include the following:
- Neck stiffness and pain that may grow worse with movement
- Loss of range of motion of the neck
- Chronic headaches that begin at the base of the skull
- Tenderness in the upper back, arms or shoulders
- Numbness in the arms
Some individuals experience complications, which can cause more disruptive symptoms to occur. Those with more severe cases may experience ringing in the ears, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, irritability, memory problems or depression. Fortunately, treating whiplash often simply involves regular visits to the chiropractor, who can make adjustments to help reverse the damage and alleviate the pain.
How a chiropractor can help
A chiropractor, or Doctor of Chiropractic, knows the spine inside and out and can usually pinpoint which region of the spine is affected. During the initial visit, the D.C. will perform an x-ray and thorough examination of the spine to identify areas of restricted joint motion, muscle spasm, ligament injury or inter-verbal disc injury. To do this, the doctor may use a diagnostic technique called static or motion palpitation. Once the chiropractor has identified the issue, a treatment plan will be devised. Typically, a neck pain program consists of non-invasive, non-surgical healing methods.
The chiropractic adjustment is the most common way Doctors of Chiropractic relieve joint inflammation and ease the symptoms of whiplash. Though it often requires several adjustments, a person may experience full range of motion within a few short weeks or months with the practitioner's help.
Spinal decompression occurs when a chiropractor applies a flexion-distraction force to the spine. This typically helps draw herniated discs back to the proper places within the spinal column.
Massage therapy may be used in conjunction with the chiropractic adjustment and/or spinal decompression to ease muscle spasms and increase blood flow in the damaged tissues. Massage therapy often helps to speed the healing process.
A chiropractor has the proper training and techniques to help alleviate symptoms of whiplash after a car accident. If you or a loved one was involved in an accident and now live with neck pain, contact a practitioner near you.
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