Whiplash is not a diagnosis or an illness — the term describes how the injury occurred. A whiplash injury happens when the spine suddenly jerks in one direction and then rebounds in the other. This type of movement can be caused by riding roller coasters, sports-related accidents, being punched or shaken, and falling. However, the most common way to get a whiplash injury is from a car accident, especially if you have been rear-ended or had to slam the brakes suddenly.
How Dangerous Are Car Accidents?
Data released by the federal government in early 2022 shows deaths from car accidents are on the rise. In Los Angeles, car accident deaths rose 24% between 2020 and 2021. Similarly, traffic deaths in Denver have risen 50% in the past ten years. Car accidents are indeed a significant health threat to all individuals.
Most people survive car crashes, but even if you just have a fender bender, the chance for injury is high. Besides whiplash injuries, you can receive cuts, bruises, broken bones, and other complications. The most common types of injury from even a minor car accident are whiplash and back pain, as well as head injuries and minor cuts.
Colorado Car Accident Statistics
In Colorado, car crashes are among the top causes of death. Speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, distracted driving, and drunk driving were all involved in a significant number of crashes in Colorado. Denver County consistently has the most car accident injuries of any county in the state, year after year.
How Common is Whiplash?
There are more than 6 million car accidents nationwide every year. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries from front-end and rear-end car accidents. One of the reasons whiplash is so common is that you don’t have to be going very fast to be injured; you could be going as slow as five or 10 miles per hour and sustain a whiplash injury.
While people of any age can get whiplash, older individuals are more at risk. Their muscles, discs, and ligaments are less flexible, which can lead to easier and more severe cases of whiplash. Other factors that can put you at risk for having a more severe case include having had whiplash before, having another condition that causes neck and back pain, and being in a high-speed crash.
Other Neck, Head, and Back Injuries From Car Accidents
In addition to whiplash, other injuries can occur even from a minor car accident, including “soft tissue” injuries. These occur when muscles and ligaments are strained during the accident. Whiplash is one type of soft tissue injury, but similar strains can also cause mid- and low-back pain. From a cut on the forehead to a concussion, head injuries and subsequent headaches are also common in car accidents.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms often arise hours or even days after a car accident. The most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain that worsens with movement
- Difficulty moving the neck
- Sore shoulders or upper back
- Arm tingling or numbness
- Feeling tired
However, some people with whiplash also experience:
- Blurry vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Memory problems
- Trouble with concentration
How Long Does It Take To Heal Whiplash?
Many cases of whiplash heal on their own within a few weeks. However, some turn into chronic neck and back pain that stays for months or even years. You should always visit a medical professional when you have neck pain following an accident, even if you think you only have a minor case of whiplash.
Experts recommend you stay active with gentle forms of movement, like yoga or tai chi, after a whiplash injury. The muscles can stiffen and prolong the injury if too much inactivity exists. You can also treat whiplash with over-the-counter NSAIDs, hot and cold applications, or prescription muscle relaxers.
You may also try other forms of alternative care like acupuncture and massage therapy to ease your symptoms.
When Should You See A Chiropractor for Whiplash?
Chiropractors can help with whiplash injuries. Once your doctor rules out other potentially serious causes for your neck pain, it is safe to see a chiropractor for help with your injury. Studies show that chiropractic care can improve range of motion and lessen pain in people with a whiplash injury.
Seeing a chiropractor for your whiplash injury can speed healing and make you more comfortable during the process. It can also lower the risk of long-term neck and back pain from the initial injury.
How Do Chiropractors Treat Whiplash?
Whiplash injuries are best treated when chiropractors hold a holistic attitude. First, your chiropractor will examine your medical history, followed by a physical examination. Even though whiplash is a neck injury, other areas of your spine may have restricted movement, affecting the injury. They may also order imaging like an X-Ray of your neck and spine to get a better look at any degeneration that may have existed before the crash.
First, your practitioner will work to lower the inflammation surrounding the injury site. They may use gentle stretches, ice, or a massaging tool. Once there is less inflammation, they will perform a variety of gentle manipulations of the spine and joints to bring your neck and spine back into alignment. Your chiropractor may show you exercises you can do at home to strengthen your neck muscles and speed up healing. They may also advise you on lifestyle adjustments you can make to avoid possible reinjury. Chiropractic care is a low-risk, highly effective treatment option for whiplash injuries.
Denver’s Best Chiropractic Whiplash Treatment
Looking for the best whiplash chiropractor in Denver? Reinhardt Chiropractic and Wellness provides specialized auto accident care to people in the Denver area.
In addition to providing chiropractic care, our clinic offers several other services such as massage therapy, physical therapy, dry needling, nutrition, orthotics, and more, which may be recommended within your custom treatment plan. Dr. Reinhardt also has a network of trusted specialists, including physicians, neurologists, and other alternative healthcare practitioners for referrals when needed.
If you are experiencing whiplash injuries or were recently in an auto accident in the Denver area, reach out to schedule your appointment for the best chiropractic care in Denver.