A man touching his neck, feeling pain.


Choosing a chiropractor for whiplash in Anchorage or Juneau can seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, deciding whether to see a chiropractor for whiplash at all may be difficult for some. It’s natural to wonder if chiropractic care is the best choice. 

Evidence shows that chiropractic care is effective for whiplash. Although the extent of the whiplash injury determines chiropractic treatment, certain chiropractic treatment options are very effective for most whiplash cases. These treatments can also help those lesser-known symptoms of whiplash and prevent long-term issues.

Can a Chiropractor Help With Whiplash? The Evidence:

A woman being treated in her neck by a chiropractor.

Effective treatment for any type of injury or disease is all about evidence. It’s about building on the body of scientific evidence that has come before to help patients as efficiently and effectively as possible. Chiropractic whiplash treatment is no different. And here at Better Health Chiropractic we always provide evidence-based treatments which are then enhanced by our 20+ years of experience treating Alaskans. 

Here are just a few studies that show how effective seeing a chiropractor for whiplash is.

93% Improvement With Chiropractic Care

One retrospective study of 28 individuals with chronic whiplash injuries found promising results. The study states that over 40% of whiplash injuries result in chronic neck pain and other issues for which there was no known effective treatment at the time of the study. 

All 28 patients were treated with chiropractic care. 26 of those patients improved following chiropractic care. That’s 93% improvement, which even from a small study such as this one, is promising. 

Tailored Exercises and Chiropractic Care

Another study, this one of 30 patients, sought to understand the best chiropractic treatment for whiplash injuries. These patients experienced extended or delayed whiplash symptoms that interfered with their active lifestyles. The patients were split into two groups. One group received standard exercises and chiropractic care, whereas the other received specific “phasic” exercises for the neck along with chiropractic care. The treatment for each group lasted eight weeks. 

The group that received specific exercises and chiropractic care showed a nearly 50% improvement over those eight weeks, compared to a less than 10% improvement for the other group.

This study shows the importance of a specific, multifaceted approach to treating whiplash. At Better Health Chiropractic, this is something we’ve been doing to great effect for over 20 years. We employ not only chiropractic doctors but also physical therapists and massage therapists for this very reason.

The Dangers of Medication for Whiplash Injury

Unfortunately, a common practice in certain medical communities has been to recommend or prescribe pain pills for whiplash injuries. This study looked for evidence supporting the use of pain pills, both over-the-counter and prescribed, as an effective treatment for whiplash. The authors of the study found no strong evidence for any long-term benefits. In fact, they recommend against pain pills, especially opioids, saying that the risks outweigh any potential benefits. 

Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be beneficial for relieving pain immediately following the onset of symptoms, but regular use for chronic whiplash pain can have negative side effects, the study said. These may include gastrointestinal and renal issues after long-term use.

This is why it’s important to seek safe, non-invasive treatment before continued use of NSAIDs or other painkillers becomes necessary.


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Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash

Chiropractic treatment varies from case to case. Your chiropractic doctor will decide on the right treatment options for you by determining the severity of your pain, the location of the injury, any accompanying symptoms, and your medical history. He or she may also want an x-ray taken of the affected area to rule out any other trauma or injury that may have existed before with or without symptoms.

Don’t be surprised when your doctor of chiropractic evaluated your whole spine. One of the main tenets of chiropractic care is that the body is one unit working in unison. Nothing operates on its own without influencing another part of the body. This is one reason chiropractic care has been successful in treating whiplash injuries; it’s thorough care that can be extremely effective in getting rid of whiplash.

A woman trying to exit a car feeling pain in her neck.

Chiropractor for Whiplash Treatment Options

Since every injury is different, it’s hard to say exactly which one(s) you may experience when seeking chiropractic care for whiplash. However, here are some of the most common treatments that chiropractors perform for such injuries.

1) Initial Treatment

If you visit a chiropractor soon after the injury occurs, your neck may still be inflamed. If so, your chiropractor will likely employ gentle, anti-inflammatory options. These include cold therapy, ultrasound, stretching, electrical therapy, and laser therapy.

2) Spinal Manipulation

One of the major treatments in any chiropractic practice, spinal manipulation has been shown to help treat all kinds of spinal issues, including whiplash. There are several different types of spinal manipulation.

  • Specific Manipulation – This is a type of spinal manipulation that involves a gentle but firm thrusting, usually done with the chiropractor’s hands to soft tissue areas. It is designed to stimulate the nervous system to help fix subluxations, which are abnormalities in the movement of the spinal joints and vertebrae.
  • Flexion-Distraction – This is another hands-on spinal manipulation technique that is used to treat slipped or bulging discs. This type of treatment employs a pumping motion on the disc rather than the spine itself.
  • Instrument-Assisted – Usually used for patients with degenerative disc disease, this technique uses special instruments in tandem with the chiropractor’s hands to treat whiplash injuries.

3) Chiropractic Massage

Sometimes chiropractic massage is used on whiplash injuries to help promote healing, reduce pain, and improve blood flow to the affected area. This can also help relieve stress in the shoulder and neck area, which is common after whiplash.

4) Stretching and Trigger Point Therapy

Since the muscles and tendons of the neck can become tight following a whiplash injury, your chiropractor may perform some gentle stretching to the area. This will help relieve pain and ease the tension in the neck. It can also help reduce tension headaches. Trigger point therapy is another way to relieve pain in specific areas with the use of persistent pressure applied by the chiropractor’s fingers.

5) McKenzie Exercises

Your chiropractor may employ McKenzie exercises to help reduce disc derangement common to whiplash injuries. The chiropractor will generally show you these simple movements during a session and then have you continue them at home as part of your recovery.

6) Guidance, Tips, and Exercises

Finally, your chiropractor will probably give you other tips and guidance to help your whiplash recovery, including home remedies for whiplash relief. You may be tempted to rest and avoid using your neck much for a few days, but this is a mistake. You’ll likely have exercises assigned so your neck can grow stronger and recover quickly. Depending on your posture, the type of work you do, and other lifestyle factors, your chiropractor may suggest other tips to avoid long-term whiplash-related issues.

Is Seeing a Chiropractor for Whiplash Safe?

A woman getting her neck stretched by a chiropractor.

Since chiropractic care is non-invasive and conservative, there is significantly less risk than other conventional treatment options such as injections, surgery, or prescription pills. However, since most chiropractic care for whiplash does involve manipulation of the cervical spine, you may want to know how safe it is.

One study went over the literature available to determine the risk of serious adverse events from cervical (neck) spinal manipulation. The study’s authors looked at data from over 50,000 cervical manipulations and found zero serious adverse events. This study indicates the safety of chiropractic care for whiplash.

How Long to Recover From Whiplash?

Whiplash recovery time depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the injury, the type of treatment you seek (if any), and your overall health. With proper treatment, such as what we offer at Better Health Chiropractic, most whiplash patients experience relief within four to six weeks. For mild cases, this could be as little as two weeks. For more severe cases, it could be longer.  

Whiplash Chiropractor: Conclusion

It’s estimated that around 40% of whiplash injuries result in chronic pain or other problems. But chiropractic care can help. You don’t have to live with chronic neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, or limited range of motion. At Better Health Chiropractic, we combine chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy to treat whiplash in a safe, effective manner. 

Over our 20+ years in Alaska, we’ve treated over 4,000 whiplash cases and over 9,000 general neck pain cases. We specialize in getting our fellow Alaskans back to their families, their active lifestyles, and the things they enjoy doing in our great state. 

Call or message us today at  our Anchorage chiropractic clinic. You’ll be in better hands at Better Health Chiropractic.

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