Whiplash: Symptoms & Treatment

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash (medically referred to as Cervical Acceleration-Deceleration, or CAD) is easily one of the most commonly used words in the chiropractic language, and it’s almost always associated with vehicular accidents. According to Spine-Health.com,

“Whiplash occurs when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through lightning-quick motions and extreme stresses.”

However, there are near endless potential ways to cause your head to jerk back and forth, especially when it comes to sports and or even head-banging a bit too hard at a rock concert. You get the idea, but yes, rear-end car accidents are the most common cause.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash?

First and foremost, neck pain. For some it can be sharp and radiating (can travel along the shoulder or down the arm), for others it can be hot tingling numbness, or even a dull aching. Whether tolerable or excruciating, it’s a serious issue when you experience these accompanied by a limited range of motion/stiffness. It can be hard to diagnose, and since we’re talking about the neck and cervical spine/central nervous system (some experience “reduced” mental faculties) it’s rather complex.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

It really depends on a lot of things. For example, are you going to see a chiropractor? With treatment most people recover within about 3 months or so, but for those that go the DIY route it’s risky. Chronic pain can last years, and there are a number of associated disorders to consider. Has your balance or coordination been impacted? Tendons and muscles can repair themselves, but how are the vertebrae and joint capsules? The first step to quick effective recovery is diagnosis!

How to Treat Whiplash?

Like many other complex medical conditions, when we start talking treatments it can get murky really fast. What does the medical literature say vs. real world or anecdotal evidence? At the end of the day, the most effective treatment for whiplash is going to be designed specifically for you and your situation. Again, sprains and strains will heal, but at Better Health Alaska we offer a comprehensive mix of chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehabilitation options in all of our Alaska clinics – Wasilla, Juneau, and Anchorage.

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Whiplash Stretches

To be safe, we advise you not try and exercise or stretch your neck yourself after experiencing whiplash unless under the supervision or direction of a professional. They’re not complex movements or anything, but unless you have a clear understanding of your neck/cervical physiology, you could unintentionally make things worse or hurt associated soft tissue. Here’s a quick list of easy, low-impact, and DIY-style exercises to look into.

  • Chin-Tucks
  • Neck Flexion
  • Neck Extensions
  • Side-Bends
  • Isometrics

What is the Best Way to Sleep with Whiplash?

The best way offers the most effective neck support, and helps you keep it in a neutral position with you sleeping on your back. The stomach is going to put more pressure on the neck, even if you have a nice soft ergonomic pillow. You can also sleep on your sit, again, as long as the neck has enough support to keep the spinal straight vs. bending.