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Whiplash injuries: Understanding the symptoms, causes and treatment

Although it is known as one of the most commonly occurring car accident injuries, whiplash is poorly understood by many people. Whiplash is an injury to the tissues, muscles and bones in the neck, and it is caused by a sudden jerking movement back and forth of the neck and shoulders. This condition is very common in rear-end collisions, and people may not realize that they have been injured for some time afterward.

What is Whiplash Injury?

Occupants of the lead car may have their heads and necks thrown forward by the physical forces involved in the accident. As the forces quickly subside, the occupants’ heads and necks are then thrusted violently backward, causing them to overextend the muscles and tissues in the process. Many people who suffer whiplash injuries do not initially recognize that they have been injured. This may be caused by the rush of adrenaline following accidents, leading some people to believe that they haven’t been injured. The symptoms may not show up for many hours or even days after an accident, making it highly important for people to seek medical care even if they do not believe that they have been injured.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

Most people who have suffered whiplash injuries will experience one or more of the following symptoms within a day or a few days after the accident:

  • Headaches

  • Neck stiffness

  • Reduction in the range of motion

  • Dizziness

  • Pain that radiates through the shoulders

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Irritability

  • Pain or numbness that radiates into the arms and hands

Severe whiplash injuries may cause debilitating symptoms that last for months, making it difficult for people to resume their normal daily activities and decreasing their functional abilities. The treatment options that are available at South Florida Injury Centers may help to alleviate the pain that is caused by whiplash injuries while also helping to improve the range of motion and to reduce stiffness so that function is restored more quickly.


How doctors diagnose whiplash?

When you go to see your doctor following your accident, he or she will first examine your spine as a whole. This is because whiplash can affect other areas of the spine in addition to the neck region. The chiropractor will then examine you for injured discs, compressed areas, muscular spasms, ligament injuries and restrictions in your range of motion. Your chiropractor may also have you walk so that he or she can evaluate your posture and gait for any limitations. Finally, the chiropractor may order an MRI or an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.


Chiropractic treatment of whiplash injuries

While your injury is still acute, your chiropractor will work to reduce the inflammation. He or she may use gentle manual and stretching therapies and advise you to apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling. You may also be told to wear a neck support device. When the inflammation has subsided, your chiropractor will implement a treatment plan that depends on the severity of your injury. He or she may use spinal manipulation to adjust subluxations of the facet joints. This can help to restore the joint’s ability to move and your range of motion. Other types of spinal manipulation that your chiropractor might use include flexion-distraction techniques and instrument-assisted manipulations.

If you have soft tissue injuries, we can help. We can also treat those with manual therapies and stretching exercises. We also use trigger point therapy and therapeutic massage techniques to help alleviate pain and to restore function. Therapeutic exercise, traction, and therapeutic ultrasound may also be used to help to reduce stiffness, improve your ability to move your joints and to increase the circulation of blood to the area to speed healing.

If you are experiencing neck pain following a car accident, it is important that you get an evaluation.  Especially if going through PIP, it is vital that you get seen within 14 days of your car accident or else you won’t get any coverage.


Office Hours

Monday through Friday

10:00am – 1:00pm


3:00pm – 7:00pm


Why suffer another second? CALL TO SCHEDULE TODAY!

Tel: (954) 606-6325

Fax: (772) 621-5131

Contact South Florida Injury Centers at 954.606.6325
to schedule your appointment.
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