Chiropractic Treatment of Whiplash From A Car Accident


Have you been involved in a car accident?

According to a Florida law which took effect January 1, 2013, you must received initial treatment within 14 days after an accident to receive Personal Injury Protection medical benefits.

During the accident, you may, like many Americans, experience whiplash. Whiplash is an injury of the neck that is the result of a rapid forward and/or backward motion of the neck during an accident or trauma. This can cause damage to the joints and ligaments of the spinal region in the neck. Even the intervertebral discs can be damaged. This causes tissue swelling and inflammation and can also cause microscopic hemorrhage in those tissues. The response of the nervous system to trauma, and the injury to deeper tissue of the spine can result in restriction or fixation of the spinal joints. Because of this trauma, one can experience many symptoms such as: – Neck painNeck muscle soreness/spasmHeadachesDecreased range-of-motion in the neckShoulder pain/muscle sorenessDizzinessBlurred visionNumbness/tingling in arms and hands

Reviewing neck x-rays following auto accident.Many times whiplash is underdiagnosed. Also, whiplash is often treated with anti-inflammatories and pain medication. However, these medications only mask the symptoms.

Chiropractic care is a treatment that has gotten extremely positive results in patients with whiplash. A chiropractic approach focuses on a complete picture of the mechanism of this injury. The chiropractic therapy is focused to first mobilize the restricted spinal joints and then initiating spinal adjustments. The chiropractic treatment includes non-force and flexion-distraction techniques. Basically, the spinal joints are the main portion of the spine that is given attention when treating a whiplash. Since spinal manipulation means adjusting the spine, extra care should be observed when doing the treatment. Therefore, the chiropractor will wait until the muscles get stabilized before performing the chiropractic adjustment.

In addition to waiting for the muscle to stabilize, the chiropractor will also deal on how to reduce the inflammation using methods like ultrasound, gentle stretching and manual therapies like muscle stimulation therapy. Another method to reduce the inflammation is by means of cold packs or cold treatments. Massage therapy is also utilized, as it helps to increase circulation to the muscles, which facilitates healing, and it also helps to relax those tightened muscles.

Once the inflammation starts to disappear, the chiropractor will use gentle spinal manipulation in order to make the spinal joints go back to their functional movements that have been restricted due to whiplash. In some patients, non-thrusting and non-forceful methods are important to treat whiplash.

Auto accident - front end, with hidden injuries to passengersBasically, the goal of chiropractic treatment of whiplash is to optimize motion in the spine, treat the spinal discs, reduce muscle spasms and improved muscular strength. As mentioned, the neck is a very sensitive part of the body since it holds the head as well as supports the cervical vertebrae. The chiropractor will do assessments first before doing the treatment to ensure total safety of the entire procedure.

When undergoing a consultation with the chiropractor, he or she will most likely assess your whole spine instead of focusing only on the cervical vertebrae. This is important since even if there is only one area that is symptomatic, there may be other regions of the spine that have also been affected.

Possible chiropractic treatment plans for whiplash really depends on the diagnosis of the chiropractor. This includes specific spinal manipulation to treat the joints that are affected. Another method is the use of flexion-distraction technique, which uses non-thrusting pressure to treat herniated discs.

Other therapies include the trigger point therapy, where direct pressure is applied on the portion of the neck muscle to relieve tension. A therapeutic massage is also used most of the time to also relieve the neck area from tension.

There are several things that you can do to treat whiplash. There is no one-size-fits-all method to treat whiplash. In fact, each individual case of whiplash is treated differently. There is simply no general rule on how to treat whiplash. A chiropractor knows this that is why he or she does an assessment first before proceeding with treatment.

Chiropractic treatment on whiplash helps patients return to their normal activities quickly without undergoing too much pain. Moreover, chiropractic treatment provides a more holistic and non-invasive approach in treating whiplash. If you have been experiencing a whiplash injury for a long time already, then it is time that you seek help with your chiropractor.


If you have been involved in a car accident, a truck accident, or any motor vehicle accident, Contact American Chiropractic for an appointment with Dr. Hunziker. We will be sure to give you a thorough examination, including necessary diagnostic imaging, and then recommend appropriate care to help you to look and feel better.


This article was based on an article originally posted Feb 08, 2010 by Dr.Heath Gallentine of Lexington Family Chiropractic, at Articlesbase, and updated for the 2013 Florida PIP law.

Here is a related article on this website that might also be helpful:
*Have You Been Hurt in an Auto Accident? Here’s What to do Next!

  1. good information in this post; thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Martin — February 16, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

  2. Your American Chiropractic and Rehabilitation article on Chiropractic Treatment For Whiplash From A Car Accident has a lot of helpful information for me. Many thanks for this article.

    Comment by austin chiropractic — February 16, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  3. I have been involved in several car accidents. Fortunately, I was not hurt. But now I understand how important it is to have a skilled, professional chiropractor check you out after and auto accident. I have been so fortunate not to have been hurt during previous accidents; I will not push my luck any longer. I will see my chiropractor if I am involved in another auto accident, no matter how minor the accident may seem. Better to be safe than sorry!

    Comment by Larousse — February 16, 2013 @ 6:24 pm