Whiplash Treatment


Car accidents are an unfortunate reality that affects practically everyone today – whether directly or indirectly. There accidents can cause a wide array of injuries.

One of the most common injuries that occurs during an auto collision is whiplash. In simple terms, whiplash is a rapid snapping of the neck forward and backward.

The force of the collision or an abrupt stop pushes your body against the seat and then forward against the seatbelt. Because your head is uninhibited by the seatbelt, it continues moving forward or backward even when the body is already moving the other direction.

whiplash-pain treatment

Whiplash injuries happen when the neck and head experience hyperflexion or hyperextension (movement past normal physiological limits) which damages the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in that region.

Due to the fact that a whiplash injuries have so many different variables such as speed, vector, force, age, past injuries, and even different system in the body – they are incredibly complex in diagnosis and treatment.

Common Whiplash Injuries


  • Neck pain – this is one of the most common symptoms that is experienced by people who had whiplash. All aspects of the structure of the neck is affected by whiplash – the facets, the discs, and surrounding muscles and ligaments.
  • Shoulder pain – this is due to the fact that the neurology that supplies the shoulders, arms, and hands comes from the neck region. Additionally, the shoulder is often affected by the seatbelt during a collision.
  • Headaches – whiplash injuries cause pain and tight muscles. Inflamed, tight, achy muscles influence the nerves that go to the head and can lead to tension headaches and even migraines. This is normally the case in most whiplash injuries; however, in more severe cases whiplash can cause serious damage to the brain itself.
  • Fatigue/dizziness – these symptoms are experiences in situations where the brain stem is affected. The force that enters the body from a whiplash injuries can potentially shift something out of alignment in the neck and cause stress on the brainstem. Typically, this is very correctable and very treatable with chiropractic care.
  • Upper back pain – because of the injuries sustained to the soft tissues of the neck, patients with whiplash will commonly have abnormal motion and they will commonly carry their head differently, which affects the muscles in the upper back region.
  • Cognitive changes – bruising or bleeding of the brain structure inside of the skull is common during a severe whiplash injury. When the neck and head rapidly snap forward and then backwards, this can cause the brain to bounce off of the skull leading to cognitive changes.
  • Low back pain – although the majority of symptoms from whiplash occur in the neck, the low back is affected between 50-75% of the time. This happens because the spine functions as a unit. When the neck snaps backward during a whiplash injury, the force pushes down on the rest of the spine and compresses the mid-back and the low back.
  • TMJ – whiplash can cause injury to the temporomandibular joint of the jaw. When the muscles that hold the jaw in place experience a strain/sprain injury, this can cause clicking, popping, cracking and pain during motion. TMJ dysfunction can develop into more serious health issues such as headaches, earaches, and even prevent people from eating normally.

Treatment Options for Whiplash Injuries

According to the Mayo Clinic, the medical approach includes the following recommendations:

  • Rest may be helpful during the first 24 hours after injury, but prolonged bed rest may delay recovery.
  • Ice or heat. Apply ice or heat to the neck for 15 minutes up to six times a day.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications.Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), often can control mild to moderate whiplash pain.
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Muscle relaxants. These drugs may control pain and help restore normal sleep if pain prevents you from sleeping well at night.
  • An injection of lidocaine (Xylocaine) — a numbing medicine — into painful muscle areas may be used to decrease pain so that you can do physical therapy.
  • Foam collars. Soft foam cervical collars were once commonly used for whiplash injuries to hold the neck and head still. However, studies have shown that immobilizing the neck for long periods of time can decrease muscle strength and impair recovery.

neck pain treatment

Physical therapy – deals with the muscles and ligaments that have been damaged during a whiplash injury. A Physical Therapist will prescribe exercises to strengthen muscles, improve posture and restore normal movement.

Chiropractic care – specific and gentle adjustments help restore proper motion and position to the spinal bones to facilitate proper healing.

So which of these approaches is best in treating whiplash injuries?

According to Chiro-Trust.org, “In the May 21, 2002 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of PhDs reported on neck pain treatment comparing traditional medical and physical therapy approaches verses spinal manipulation.

In the study, they compared three common neck pain treatment approaches in a group of 183 patients with chronic neck pain (patients who had neck pain for more than three months). The three methods were traditional medical care (which included medication utilization and rest), manual therapy (chiropractic adjustments) and physical therapy (active exercise training). After seven week of treatment, 68.3% of those who received manual therapy/chiropractic care felt either totally resolved (cured) or much improved compared with 50.8% of those in the physical therapy group, and 35.9% in the medical care group.

Study author Jan Lucas Hoving, PhD reported that manual therapy/chiropractic was found to be more effective than the other two methods “…on almost all outcome measure,” not just a few! Further, although PT scored better than traditional medical care, “…most of the differences were not statistically significant,” meaning, not that much better. The authors appropriately reported that further study was needed to better understand the differences between methods.”

“In 2008, the “Decade Task Force” reviewed ten years of studies on the treatment of neck pain and found similar results and referenced many studies that indicated spinal manipulation for neck pain, headaches, whiplash, and other neck-related conditions was one of the most effective methods and that patients with neck pain should be given the option of receiving manual therapy/ chiropractic before other approaches as it was found to be less expensive, faster in obtaining satisfying results (shorter course of disability), and most effective in terms of long-term benefit.”

Although both medical intervention and Physical Therapy can be helpful and timely, the research is clear that the primary course of action for treating whiplash injuries should be chiropractic care.

How Abundant Life Chiropractic Can Help

At Abundant Life Chiropractic, we specialize in neurological based care. Our approach is instrument-based, where we specifically adjust areas of the neck and back that have misaligned during the hyperflexion/hyperextension of the neck. After a thorough exam, we will explain our recommendations for your care based off of motion-study x-rays. Our treatment is non-invasive and helps with treating whiplash without the use of pain medications or surgery.

Schedule an appointment at our clinic today by calling 952-300-8338 for an initial examination!

Call today to Schedule Your Initial Consultation 952.300.8338

  • Abun4ss
    I arrived at Abundant Life with Sciatica and through treatments I have gradually and noticeably improved. I would recommend Abundant Life Chiropractic as it has solved my health issues. -John
  • Abun4ss - Copy
    I came to Abundant Life for sleep issues because of hot flashes and then I tweaked my back. Since starting care, my sleep is greatly improved and my back situation improved quickly. I would definitely recommend care at Abundant Life. -Karen B.
  • Abun4ss - Copy - Copy
    I originally came to see Dr. Knight for allergies and sinus problems. Since starting care I can breathe better, I don’t break out in hives as much and I don’t have the ringing in my right ear. I wish I would've known Dr. Knight years ago. -Michelle M.