If you have recently been in a car accident and suffered whiplash, you might be desperate to find relief from the pain and tightness you feel in your neck and upper back. While your stabilization collar helps prevent additional strains and injuries, it does not always do much for the pain. Here are three things you can request when you seek out a chiropractor for whiplash for help.
A Cervical Manipulation
You might be very worried about seeing a chiropractor for spinal and cervical adjustments. However, a chiropractor would never use any type of quick movement or adjustment for cervical or spinal manipulation when you have the kinds of severe injuries involved with whiplash. Instead the movements are small, controlled, and gentle so that you can tolerate the pain while the adjustments are made and so that further injury isn't incurred. For example, the doctor can use flexion-distraction technique where he or she gently pumps the dics in the spine so that they "slide" rather than pop back into place. He or she can also use instrument-assisted manipulation, which is a useful technique if you are a senior or have particularly sensitive joints. While the chiropractor may want to adjust your spine while you are sitting, you can request to lie face-down on the adjustment table if your neck muscles are having a hard time relaxing.
Because some chiropractors are also licensed acupuncturists, they can provide unique pain-blocking relief through acupuncture. Very carefully and gently placed acupuncture needles can help alleviate some of the inflammation and pain you feel. Acupuncture can have a bonus effect -- it may allow your neck muscles to relax just enough so that the cervical manipulations the chiropractor performs are easier and smoother than if they were performed without this pain-relieving treatment.
Some chiropractors also work in a spinal and neurological clinic. That means that there may be an anesthesiologist on hand to give you a local anesthetic or a cervical block via your spine. If you do receive this kind of pain-blocking medicine from the clinic's anesthesiologist (usually prior to your alignment treatments), be sure to get a ride home afterwards as it will not be safe to drive.
As the ligaments and tendons in your neck heal, massage therapy may be added. This IS NOT a therapy to be used early on, since there is often too much damage to the soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones for massage therapy to be safe (not to mention too much pain!). Usually about the same time that your neck brace comes off and you no longer need to wear that, your chiropractor may recommend massage therapy to loosen up any overly tight muscles and alleviate any lingering pain. You may even be able to request a teaching session from your chiropractor that will show your significant other how to properly do massage therapy at home in order to help you feel better and heal even faster.