Imagine sitting at a stoplight and getting rear-ended.
Your head and neck snap back and are thrown forward.
Sometimes this will cause immediate pain, but it can also take hours, days, or weeks until you notice pain and other symptoms.
This is known as a whiplash injury. A Whiplash Chiropractor can treat this type of pain.
With almost 6 million car accidents occurring every year in the United States, whiplash is only second to back injuries from car accidents.
How quickly you recover from whiplash depends on the severity of your injury and accident.
But is there a way to speed up your recovery time?
We'll take a look in the article below.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Whiplash?
- Common Symptoms of Whiplash
- Two Factors Affecting Recovery
- How Long Does Whiplash Recovery Typically Take?
- Self Care Speeds Up Recovery
- Chiropractic Treatments Heal Whiplash Quickly And Completely
- Contact Arrowhead Clinic
Whiplash is the sudden extension of your cervical spine (neck) in response to jarring stress, like a car accident.
Whiplash can even happen in rear-end collisions at speeds under 14 miles per hour.
You don't need to be in a high-speed collision to suffer a whiplash injury.
Whiplash damages the soft tissues in your neck, causing significant pain and a loss of range of motion.
The pain may be unbearable initially, or it can take some time for symptoms to show up.
But for most whiplash victims, with proper medical care and treatment, a full recovery is expected over a few weeks or months, depending on the severity of the injury.
Common Symptoms Of Whiplash
Neck pain, neck stiffness, and a limited range of motion are the most common symptoms resulting from a whiplash injury.
Other symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Shoulder Pain
- Pain in the spinal cord
- Upper back pain
- Arm pain
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
There are also subtle, less common symptoms as well.
Many people do not realize there are other symptoms connected to your injury. Cognitive symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Memory and concentration problems
Two Factors Affecting Recovery
Your level of pain can also affect how quickly you can make a recovery.
People who experience less pain are likely to recover faster than those who experience more.
The higher the level of pain experienced, the longer the recovery process.
Your state of mind also greatly affects your recovery process.
Studies have also shown that you are more likely to have a faster recovery if you have positive thinking and give yourself realistic recovery expectations.
Positive thinking yields positive results, whereas negative thinking yields negative results.
How Long Does Whiplash Recovery Typically Take?
With appropriate treatments, most people with whiplash can recover within one to three weeks.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure how long your specific recovery will take.
Minor injuries tend to resolve in days to weeks.
More severe injuries may have symptoms that may persist much longer.
Some patients may never fully recover from their neck injury, especially if they don't seek immediate treatment.
It's estimated that around 10% to 20% of whiplash victims will have significant chronic pain down the road.
As we mentioned above, your mental health and pain perception also plays a role in recovery.
The most consistent risk factors for poor recovery are people with:
- Higher levels of pain
- Higher levels of disability
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pain catastrophizing
- Symptoms of depression
- Low expectations of recovery
Age is also a factor to consider.
Under the same circumstances, younger people involved in car accidents typically recover faster than someone in their 60s or 70s.
Patients with preexisting conditions like back pain, bone spurs, or a previous whiplash injury may also take longer to heal.
Self-Care Speeds Up Recovery
If you have mild to moderate whiplash symptoms, there are self-care options that can speed up your recovery while you work with your doctor.
A few self-care options for whiplash are:
- Rest: You want to stay active as possible to keep your neck from becoming too stiff. However, you should take things easy the first few days after your injury. If you notice a certain motion or activity aggravates your neck pain, avoid or limit that movement.
- Ice and heat: In the days following your whiplash injury, you can use ice to reduce pain and swelling in your neck. After a few days, ice or heat can be applied alternately.
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications: Common OTC pain relievers include acetaminophen like Tylenol and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin. Acetaminophen can block pain receptors, and NSAIDs reduce inflammation. However, over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications like muscle relaxers should only be used initially and aren't a good long-term option.
Doctors prescribed a cervical collar to immobilize the neck after a whiplash injury, but a foam collar can make the problem worse.
Immobilization allows neck muscles to weaken and become more problematic for the cervical spine.
Chiropractic Treatments Heal Whiplash Quickly And Completely
Traditional pain medications only mask your symptoms, and sometimes self-care isn't enough.
Chiropractic care aims to put your body into a healthy state so that it can heal itself.
A whiplash chiropractor will perform a physical exam and review your medical history to accurately diagnose your whiplash injury.
They can also order imaging tests like x-rays or MRIs.
Once they diagnose, your chiropractor will design a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Unlike other doctors, chiropractic care is all-natural and doesn't use prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, or muscle relaxants.
Chiropractic medicine treats the entire person, not just the symptoms they are experiencing.
By relieving pain and injury symptoms, restoring motion to your neck and shoulders, and recommending relaxation techniques, you can begin to heal.
Healing times will vary by individual, but chiropractic medicine can speed up your whiplash and prevent or diminish severe pain and chronic symptoms.
Contact Arrowhead Clinic
Recovering from a whiplash injury takes time and patience, and there is no quick fix.
Working with a chiropractor will speed up your recovery and help ensure that you don’t further injure your neck while it heals.
With rest, exercise, and chiropractic care, your neck will heal, and many people resume normal activity in a matter of weeks.
Arrowhead Clinic has a team of chiropractors specializing in helping accident victims recover from whiplash and return to their everyday lives.
Each patient that visits Arrowhead Clinic gets a free consultation to have their injury examined and have a treatment plan designed.
If you're ready to be rid of your neck pain after your motor vehicle accident, click below to schedule your initial free consultation and begin chiropractic care today!