Whiplash occurs when the neck is forced in two different directions in a very short window of time. For example, in an accident where a person's vehicle is hit from behind, the neck will first snap forward sharply, with the chin even hitting the chest in many cases. The neck then tries to recover its normal position by moving backward sharply as well. This movement, medically known as hyperextension, is one that the neck is not designed to make. Therefore, it results in significant injury to the soft tissues in the neck and shoulder area.
Whiplash is most often associated with pain. The pain is usually focused on the neck and the shoulder area. The cervical discs, the lumbar discs, and the muscles and tendons in the neck area can all be negatively impacted with whiplash. This can result in pain when moving the head or the shoulders. It can even when not making any movement at all. Some people who develop whiplash have severe headaches or dizzy spells. Most people with whiplash have a narrow range of motion in the upper body. All of these symptoms can be alleviated with proper upper cervical care.
The approach to whiplash pain depends on the individual and their specific symptoms. In the time immediately after the accident, usually during the first few days, the focus for treatment will usually be reducing the inflammation and pain. This is achieved through gentle upper cervical manipulations. Once the patient is out of pain, adjustments to the lumbar spine are made as well. This will help to bring back a patient's full range of motion for the long term. The chiropractor will work with each patient individually, making sure that they get free from the pain as soon as possible.
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