Whiplash Chiropractic and Acupuncture Recovery Treatment in Chicago, IL in Andersonville and Ravenswood Areas
Whiplash – Chiropractic and Acupuncture Offer A High Probability Of A Complete Recovery
You see that truck coming up in the rear-view mirror rather quickly and wonder if it is going to stop. At the last moment, you brace for impact but have no control over the situation. As the collision takes place, everything goes black. On impact, the head naturally snaps back and then forward in a split second, often resulting in a condition known as whiplash. The pain from whiplash is often unbearable, as anyone who is suffering or has suffered from this condition can testify.
While there is no way to go back in time and prevent an accident, treating whiplash with the help of a chiropractic team that includes an acupuncturist is an excellent choice moving forward. Since chiropractic and acupuncture treatment options both facilitate the healing process to take place quickly and allow people to get back to their normal life without debilitating pain, working with a great healthcare team is the most logical option available.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash, otherwise known as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome is classified as a neck sprain that takes place when the head snaps backward and forward quickly. Often, this injury is attributed to automobile accidents, but can also be the result of contact sports, falls, and other trauma. Throughout the entire United States, about 2 million people suffer from this condition every year.
When whiplash takes place, the neck undergoes hyperextension and then hyperflexion, resulting in a debilitating S-shaped curve in the vertebrae. This has a tendency to damage the ligaments, tendons, discs, and muscles in the neck. Since the neck is designed for maximal movement in daily life, its flexibility is ultimately its downfall when dealing with severe impacts.
What Are The Symptoms Of Whiplash?
People who experience whiplash often have tenderness and stiffness in the neck. Also, many experience a headache, pain, tingling, or numbness all the way down the arms and into the hands. Some individuals also experience nausea, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, dizziness, and pain in the jaw.
Some of the symptoms of whiplash extend to impaired cognitive function, causing memory loss, concentration issues, problems sleeping, and emotional issues like anxiety, depression, or irritability. Since whiplash can have an effect at the physical, cognitive, and emotional level, it can be extremely debilitating.
Do I Have Whiplash?
People who have symptoms associated with whiplash and have recently gone through some neck trauma may be suffering from this condition. In many cases, the effects of whiplash aren’t experienced until hours, days, weeks, or even months after an accident. Often, these individuals don’t even associate their previous accident with the pain in their neck.
People who want to know if they are suffering from whiplash or something else should visit with their doctor, as they would likely perform a CT scan or MRI to accurately analyze the soft tissues in the neck and provide a diagnosis.
What Does Whiplash Feel Like?
In the greater majority of cases, whiplash results in pain and stiffness in the neck. Often, mobility is significantly reduced, as the soft tissues undergo inflammation during the healing process.
How Long Does Whiplash Last?
According to one study, whiplash takes an average of 101 days to recover from. Now that is a long time. However, 23% of people who experience whiplash still have not recovered after one year’s time. In other words, whiplash can become a chronic condition that can continue to affect people throughout their lifetime. This is why many opt to work with a chiropractor to give them a better chance of recovering from this condition quickly.
As far as the process of recovery goes, it depends on the severity of the situation. Since a neck sprain can be classified under four different grades, from no problems with the overall structural integrity of the neck to major structural problems, individuals in the later category are going to require more treatment and will likely experience a longer recovery time.
How To Treat Whiplash?
Many individuals who suffer from whiplash believe that they can just ride out the pain, hoping that their problem will just go away. While in some cases, a neck sprain may go away without further intervention, it is always best to work with a chiropractor to analyze the situation and administer the proper treatment protocol.
Whiplash can be effectively treated with a combination of chiropractic, massage, physical therapy and acupuncture options individualized to your injury. In fact, a trained professional will be able to manipulate the vertebrae, decrease the amount of time spent suffering from this injury, and prevent long-term complications.
Let’s start with Chiropractic Care
Treatment at a professional level often begins with multimodal care that includes spinal manipulation and mobilization. In addition to adjustments and a series of controlled stretches, the goal is to focus on the direct cause of the pain, spinal dysfunction. One such treatment option that chiropractors such as ours perform are known as McKenzie exercises. The nice thing about these exercises is that patients can perform them at home, often reducing their recovery time. People who are suffering from whiplash can ask their chiropractor about these exercises to take an active role in their recovery. Also, ask a chiropractor about other personalized treatment options, as they will be able to educate individuals suffering from whiplash on a wide variety of ways to speed up recovery time.
For example, some of these home treatment options may include decreasing the swelling and inflammation by applying ice consistently for the first two days, while resting the neck to give the body a chance to heal. Then, after two days, alternate between heat and ice to expedite the healing process. After that, work through the maximal range of motion possible to increase mobility.
After a couple of days spent reducing inflammation, chiropractic adjustments are often required to restore proper function. In most cases, consistent adjustments allow the vertebrae in the neck to re-align themselves. This significantly improves the healing process, as the soft tissues aren’t placed under any unnecessary stress.
In most cases, massage and physical therapy are great ways to improve mobility and reduce pain. Throughout the treatment process, we focus on restoring the strength and flexibility of the muscles and ligaments in the area.
In addition to consistent chiropractic adjustments, the use of acupuncture, traction, thermotherapy, and cryotherapy can improve healing significantly. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to improve energy flow throughout the body. Using acupuncture to treat whiplash has been shown to improve healing and reduce inflammation which we will discuss further in a little bit.
By using traction, chiropractors can relieve unnecessary pressure on cervical discs and reduce pain levels, while improving overall mobility. In addition to traction performed by a chiropractor, people suffering from whiplash may be able to perform this procedure at home as well.
Thermotherapy includes the use of ultrasound, shortwave diathermy, and heat application. When used in conjunction with cryotherapy, or applying ice to the injury, inflammation can be significantly reduced in a short period of time.
In the past, steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were used to reduce inflammation in whiplash patients. While these drugs may be required in extreme cases, the greater majority of patients respond well to spinal manipulation techniques and don’t have to resort to pharmaceuticals. At Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center have found that with electrotherapy, acupuncture, thermotherapy, and cryotherapy have been able to reduce inflammation levels adequately in the majority of cases we see.
When recovering from whiplash, we sometimes advise wearing a cervical collar to stabilize the neck and prevent further injury. The idea is that a cervical collar will prevent any quick, debilitating movements that are often made out of habit.
People who don’t undergo professional treatment for whiplash may often end up with long-term spinal issues that include chronic pain, osteoarthritis in the neck and premature disc degeneration. This is why it is important to treat whiplash as soon as it develops to avoid long-term complications. In fact, one study has determined that the “strongest predictor of a positive outcome was seen in those who sought chiropractic treatment the soonest.” ii
Let’s Discuss How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Heal Whiplash
At Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center, whiplash can also be treated using traditional Chinese medicine. This often works well in conjunction with Chiropractic or when other treatments have failed. This is because Chinese medicine views the body very differently from western medicine.
Whiplash in Chinese Medicine
One of the underpinning theories of Chinese medicine is that of qi. Qi is a form of energy which flows through the body in channels called meridians. These meridians are like rivers, and qi is the water which fills them. When the body is healthy, Qi flows freely, nourishing the whole body as it goes.
When the body experiences a sudden trauma such as whiplash, the flow of qi is interrupted. It can become stuck and begin to stagnate. As qi is also responsible for the smooth flow of blood and body fluids, this stagnation causes a knock on effect across the entire area. This results in pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation.
Luckily there are several ways in which Chinese medicine can address and reverse these problems.
Continuing with the river analogy, imagine that the river (the meridian) has become silted up and blocked (the injury) so the water (the qi) can not continue on its path. The blockage needs to be removed, and that is where acupuncture comes in.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of ultra fine needles at specific points along the meridians. By selecting the right points, the acupuncturist can remove any blockages, restoring the smooth flow of qi.
The points chosen could be in the same area as the injury or located elsewhere, such as on the hands or feet. This is because the meridians stretch the whole length of the body, connecting head to toe. Sometimes to treat symptoms at the top end of a meridian, it is necessary to choose points at the bottom. This is especially true for recent injuries where a lot of inflammation is still present.
Once in place, the needles are stimulated either manually or using a gentle electrical current (electro-acupuncture). This helps them to perform their task of unblocking the meridians and allowing the qi to flow freely again.
Trigger Point Dry Needling
Dry needling is a similar technique to acupuncture in that it uses needles to stimulate certain points on the body. However, rather than qi and meridians, dry needling is based purely on anatomy.
By using what are known as trigger points, dry needling has the effect of relaxing a particular muscle or group of muscles. This is highly effective in treating pain and stiffness that has resulted from an injury and has no underlying cause.
Trigger point dry needling may be used alone or combined with traditional acupuncture, massage or spinal manipulation.
One thing that traditional acupuncture and dry needling have in common is that they both reduce inflammation, improve circulation and release endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals naturally secreted by the body that helps to relieve pain. These actions work together to provide an effective treatment for conditions such as whiplash.
Gua sha is an ancient therapy which has been used across eastern Asia for centuries to relieve conditions such as fever and pain. Its name accurately explains the way it works. In Chinese, gua means to scrape, and sha refers to a group of diseases caused by stagnation and excess heat.
Gua sha involves using a smoothly edged tool to massage the affected area firmly until red marks appear on the skin. These marks, called petechiae are caused by the tiny blood vessels under the skin being broken. This encourages healthy circulation, relieves inflammation and promotes healing.
The massage itself also helps to reduce muscle stiffness, improve mobility and reduce pain. This makes it an excellent choice for treating whiplash injuries.
Cupping involves placing specially designed cups on or around the affected area. These cups are first heated to create a vacuum which keeps them in place on the skin. They are then left in place for 10-20 minutes. In a similar way to gua sha, cupping works by improving circulation, relieving muscular tension and reducing pain.
After the cups are removed, a circular mark is left in its place. Cupping is rapidly growing in popularity, and you may have seen these marks on Olympians and professional athletes. They might look alarming, but they are not painful. In fact, cupping is an extremely relaxing experience!
Herbal liniments can be massaged directly into the skin to relieve muscular aches and pains. Many different herbs are used in liniments, but some common ingredients are menthol and camphor. These aromatic herbs help to move qi and blood, relax the muscles and relieve pain.
Liniments can be either cooling or warming. As a rule, cooling liniments are used for acute conditions to reduce inflammation and swelling. Warming liniments are better for chronic injuries and promote circulation, provide soothing relief and ease pain.
The Advantages of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine views the body and mind as a whole. When you go for your first session, you will have a detailed consultation. Your medical history, diet, and lifestyle will all be taken into account to make a diagnosis.
Treatment is tailored to every individual. This means that two patients with the same condition will rarely be treated in the same way. The aim is always to identify and treat the disease from its cause, rather than just focusing on symptoms.
As well as physical discomfort, your emotional state will be considered. An injury such as whiplash can often cause feelings of frustration, resentment, anxiety or depression. Due to its holistic nature, Chinese medicine can help you process these feelings, something which painkillers alone can not offer.
Chinese medicine is also much safer than many pharmaceutical options. It has been tried and tested over thousands of years and works effectively with little risk of side-effects. It can be used by people of all ages, even pregnant women.
Add this to its wide range of modalities, and it is evident that Chinese medicine provides one of the most practical and efficient treatments available for whiplash today.
Dealing With Whiplash
Whiplash can be a debilitating condition that is best treated with professional attention to facilitate the healing process promptly. All in all, the goal of treatment is to restore the normal curvature of the neck and allow the soft tissues to heal quickly. Working with a chiropractor who specializes in spinal manipulation, acupuncture, traction, and has a TENS machine offers the highest probability of success in whiplash patients.
At Ravenswood Chiropractic in Chicago, you have a full arsenal of tools and practitioners available to you to effectively treat whiplash quickly and safely without dangerous pharmaceuticals.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the symptoms associated with whiplash don’t go away overnight. Since it takes an average of a little over three months to recover from whiplash, patients who are making consistent improvements should maintain a positive frame of mind. With professional attention, personal rehabilitation efforts, and a positive attitude, people who are suffering from whiplash should eventually be able to recover from it.
Call Ravenswood Chiropractic & Wellness Center today for an appointment for whiplash diagnosis and treatment.