Whiplash Chiropractor Treatment: What to Expect for Recovery
Being involved in a car accident often results in whiplash, which causes significant pain and discomfort. Seeing a chiropractor who specializes in whiplash injuries can help you achieve full recovery. Read on to learn more about whiplash, when chiropractic treatment is needed, what the process involves, typical costs, and how long it takes to regain mobility.
What Exactly is Whiplash?
Whiplash refers to a neck injury caused by the head jolting suddenly backward and then forward. It overstretches the soft tissues in the neck beyond their normal range. Whiplash most often occurs during rear-end auto collisions but can also result from contact sports and other incidents.
During a whiplash injury, the excessive hyperextension and hyperflexion harm structures including:
- Intervertebral joints, ligaments and discs
- Cervical muscles, tendons and fascia
- Nerves, blood vessels and vertebrae
This damage leads to the classic whiplash symptoms of acute neck pain along with stiffness, spasms, headaches, shoulder pain, dizziness, and arm numbness. Whiplash injuries may be mild to extremely severe.
When to See a Chiropractor for Whiplash
Seeing a chiropractor promptly after whiplash has occurred is highly recommended. Benefits of beginning care quickly include:
- Preserving range of motion before the neck stiffens up
- Minimizing spasm and inflammation
- Restoring proper alignment early to decrease nerve impingement
- Initiating rehab to strengthen injured tissues
- Providing relief for pain that prevents normal functioning
- Documentation of injuries for insurance claims
Ideally, whiplash patients should consult a chiropractor within days or at most weeks of their accident. However, even long-standing whiplash symptoms can often be helped through chiropractic treatment.
Chiropractic Examination and Diagnosis of Whiplash
Thorough assessment is the first step in whiplash chiropractic care. Your chiropractor will:
- Take a full health history and inquire about accident details
- Evaluate posture, range of motion, gait and neurological function
- Palpate for muscle spasms, misaligned vertebrae and tissue swelling
- Order imaging tests like x-ray, MRI and CT scanning to assess soft tissue and skeletal damage
- Assess extremity strength, reflexes and sensation
- Have you reproduced specific motions to determine causes of pain
- Check for concussion symptoms if you also suffered a head injury
Based on these comprehensive diagnostic steps, your chiropractor determines the grade of your whiplash injury and creates a personalized treatment plan.
Chiropractic Treatments for Whiplash Injuries
Chiropractors tailor whiplash therapy based on exam findings and symptoms. Common treatment components include:
- Chiropractic adjustment – Highly-skilled spinal manipulation restores mobility to injured vertebrae and decompresses nerves. This provides immediate pain relief.
- Soft tissue therapies – These relax and heal strained muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia damaged during whiplash. Examples include therapeutic ultrasound, instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization, massage, myofascial release, and trigger point therapy.
- Exercise rehabilitation – Targeted exercises improve strength, flexibility and motion for the cervical spine and associated shoulder muscles affected by whiplash.
- Traction – Applies gentle, sustained stretching to realign vertebrae and open joint and nerve spaces. This eases disc compression and irritation.
- Bracing – Special cervical collars provide external support for severe instability and pain.
- Cold laser therapy – Red and infrared light decreases inflammation and facial swelling resulting from whiplash. It also accelerates healing.
With multi-therapy chiropractic care, most whiplash cases fully resolve within several months.
How Much Does Chiropractic Whiplash Treatment Cost?
Costs for whiplash chiropractic treatment vary based on your location, specific treatments, insurance coverage, and length of care. Typical fee ranges include:
- Initial exam with X-rays: $150-$300
- Follow-up office visits: $65-$120
- Chiropractic adjustments: $35-$75
- Soft tissue therapies: $10-$60 per session
- Rehabilitation: $50-$150 per hour
- Supportive devices: $40+
Your total costs will depend on how many sessions you need for full recovery. Using auto insurance can offset costs significantly. Talk to your chiropractor about reasonable treatment timeframes and payment options.
How Long Does Whiplash Chiropractic Care Take?
Resolving whiplash through chiropractic care varies based on injury severity. Mild to moderate whiplash often fully recovers within:
- 1-6 weeks for acute pain relief and restored mobility with 2-3 visits per week.
- 6-12 weeks for improving strength, function, and flexibility through exercise.
However, severe whiplash with structural damage can take 3-6 months to resolve functional deficits and chronic pain. More complicated cases with disc injury or concussion may require 6-12 months of care.
Be patient and committed to the recommended treatment schedule for optimal recovery. Attempting to speed up the natural healing timeline usually backfires.
Long-Term Outlook with Whiplash Chiropractic Care
While most recover fully, some whiplash patients deal with impairment long-term:
- Up to 25% have lingering pain and stiffness.
- 5% remain highly disabled from chronic symptoms.
Your long-term prognosis depends on factors like:
- Age at the time of injury
- Preexisting spinal problems
- Exact tissues damaged
- Treatment received
- Ability to modify work/activities to prevent re-injury
Regular chiropractic maintenance care helps many patients manage residual whiplash issues for years after accidents.
Choose Greenwood Village Chiropractor for Whiplash Recovery
Dr. Leach has over 25 years experience successfully treating whiplash using gentle yet effective chiropractic techniques. He also provides massage therapy, laser therapy and active rehabilitation programs to ensure complete recovery.
If you were injured in an auto accident, don't wait to seek help regaining your health, mobility and comfort. Schedule an exam with Dr. Leach today. He will answer your questions and provide an optimal treatment plan tailored to your specific whiplash injuries.
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.