Whiplash is a common injury from car accidents. In fact, whiplash affects up to 90% of people who have been involved in an accident where their head was forced forwards and backwards suddenly or with force. It’s more commonly known as neck injury and can also be referred to as cervical acceleration trauma or CAT.
Whiplash can occur in any type of car crash and is not exclusive to collisions that are frontal, rear-end or side impact. The high prevalence of whiplash indicates that many people fail to prevent this injury in car crashes. Thankfully, reducing the risk or even preventing whiplash is not impossible.
Today we’ll explain what whiplash is, how to reduce the risk of whiplash in a car accident, and whiplash pain management.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a term used to describe the symptoms felt after a sudden, forceful movement of the head and neck. More specifically, it refers to the damage caused to soft tissue after the head is forced backwards and forwards rapidly or with force. This sudden jerk could be caused by an impact such as hitting a stationary object or being hit by another car. A whiplash injury usually affects the muscles, ligaments and joints in the back of the neck and upper back.
Signs You May Have Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms typically appear between 1 and 7 days after the accident; however, it can take several weeks for them all to show. The symptoms of whiplash may be very mild in some people and severely debilitating in others. Whiplash symptoms may include a combination of the following:
- Neck pain – This is the most common symptom of whiplash and can range from mild to debilitating.
- Tenderness – The muscles in your neck and upper back may be tender to the touch.
- Muscle spasms – Your neck and upper back muscles may cramp up and spasm.
- Headaches – You may experience headaches, particularly at the base of your skull.
- Limited movement – You may have difficulty moving your neck or upper back due to muscle spasms.
- Changes in sensation – You may experience tingling or numbness in your hands and feet.
How To Reduce The Risk Of Whiplash In Car Accidents
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of being injured after an accident. The first thing to do is check if the car’s maintenance is up to date. Know how to prevent neck injuries and reduce the risk of whiplash with these steps:
- Adjust your headrest – How does a headrest reduce whiplash? This usually disregarded car accessory plays an important role in keeping your head position in check. The optimal headrest position is when the headrest reaches at least the top of your ears and is close to your head (approximately 3 to 5 inches). If the headrest is either too low or too high, it may make injuries from accidents worse.
- Sit straight and don’t forget to wear a seatbelt – The proper way to sit in a car to avoid whiplash is to sit upright coupled with the right headrest position. Aside from this, the seatbelt secures you in the best position for any accident, reducing the risk of severe injuries.
- Slow down – The speed limit is there for a reason. If you’re driving too quickly, you risk losing control of the vehicle and crashing. This is especially true in poor weather conditions.
- Plan ahead – You should expect the unexpected on the road. But by anticipating potential hazards, you can avoid them more easily.
- Leave plenty of space – You should leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front to avoid tailgating. This will allow you to react more quickly to hazards along the road.
- Stay calm – Your stress levels can spike after an accident and this could inhibit your decision-making. Remain calm and think clearly to make the best decision for your safety.
- Prepare for the crash – When you know a crash is inevitable, brace yourself for impact. Lean your head back toward the headrest and look straight ahead to minimize whiplash and other neck injuries.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, try to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you. Call for help and seek medical attention as soon as possible after the crash. A car accident chiropractor can check you for any injuries and can get you the right treatment immediately.
How To Manage Your Recovery After A Car Accident
Whiplash can be a tricky injury to manage. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice to avoid making your symptoms worse. If you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms,
- You should rest as much as possible.
- You can also apply ice to your neck and back to reduce swelling and pain.
- You can take painkillers liberally as long as they don’t contain any substances that could exacerbate your symptoms. You should avoid anti-inflammatories as they can have a negative effect on your muscles and joints.
- You should also avoid muscle relaxants and sleeping pills as they can make your symptoms worse.
- You should also follow a healthy diet and exercise regime.
- Stay hydrated and avoid smoking and alcohol.
- Exercise can help reduce your pain and help you sleep.
An important car accident whiplash prevention is to keep your eyes on the road. Stay up to date with your car’s maintenance and make sure to use your seatbelt at all times. Keep any distractions from your car out of sight, such as your phone.
How Chiropractic Care Helps With Whiplash Treatment
Whiplash can be an uncomfortable condition, so chiropractors are often called in to help patients recover from whiplash. They may treat your neck muscles with gentle manipulation or other techniques to relieve tightness and discomfort. In some cases, they may also recommend exercises or certain medications to help speed up the recovery process. Most commonly, their treatment includes:
- Spinal Manipulation – A chiropractor performs spinal manipulation by identifying misaligned joints and positioning them back to their proper place. By doing this, the pressure on the nerves is lifted and proper blood flow is restored.
- Soft Tissue Therapy – This procedure reduces inflammation and swelling through gentle soft tissue massage. Strained and torn muscles and tendons from whiplash can benefit greatly from soft tissue therapy. It also improves mobility, flexibility, and strength in the area.
- Spinal Decompression – A minimally invasive procedure, spinal decompression works to reduce the pressure on the spine and spinal discs by repositioning and elongating the spinal column.
- Active Rehab – Whiplash causes muscles and tendons to overstretch and weaken. Active rehab paired with adjustments works to strengthen muscles to bring back greater support and stability to the spine, head, and neck. More than that, it gives patients better mobility.
If you are experiencing whiplash, Affordable Chiropractic in Killeen, Texas can help. After diagnosis, our whiplash chiropractors create an all-natural tailored plan for your healing and recovery. Contact us today to know more.