Beyond Whiplash – Getting proper care after a car accident

Whiplash is a well-known result of an auto accident. But, what exactly is whiplash? What other neck and spinal injuries might also result from an auto accident, and how should they be treated?

The impact of a vehicle – whether moving fast or slow – will cause everything in the car to move in the direction of the opposing force. This force generates enormous pressure on the neck and back. The average head weighs nine pounds, but it can reach a force of up to 90 pounds when moving with the inertia of impact. And it’s not just the weight and speed of the head being torqued on the spine. There isn’t much room to move within a car, and an accident will push the body to collide with the seatbelt, dashboard, airbags, or some other object at a speed to cause physical damage.

Here are some common injuries caused by auto accidents and what to do about them.


Whiplash can be caused by various high-impact events but is most commonly caused by a car accident when one has been rear-ended. The head is forced backward in whiplash and then forwards (remember: 90 pounds of force) quickly.

The result of whiplash is extreme stress to the neck and spine. Whiplash symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Chiropractic treatment for whiplash is up to 94 percent successful at reducing or eliminating whiplash and neck pain symptoms. Since every case of whiplash is unique, your chiropractor will design a treatment program that’s right for you. Treatment may include:

  • Adjustment
  • Muscle relaxation and/or stimulation
  • Various exercises
  • Ergonomic and lifestyle changes.
  • Herniated discs

Cushion-like discs separate the vertebrae in your spine. A herniated disc occurs when the soft inner filling of the disc protrudes through the tougher outer encasing. You may not notice the initial rupture, but when the protruding material comes in contact with surrounding nerves, it is very painful – even debilitating. Herniated discs are usually caused by trauma like a car accident.

Chiropractic care is a non-surgical option for treating a herniated (or slipped) disc. Spinal adjustment can help to properly align the back and relieve pressure on your nervous system. Depending upon the severity of your injury. A treatment plan may be stand-alone or work in co-management with other specialists.

Lumbar (lower back) sprains

Lumbar sprains are the most common back injury and result in many emergency room visits a year. It’s easy to sprain and strain your lower back during a car accident when you twist or turn unnaturally or extremely. Tendons and muscles are stretched beyond your natural capacity resulting in pain, muscle spasms, and cramps in your lower back.

Chiropractic care is effective in treating lower back pain by recovering proper alignment so the body can begin to heal itself. See our blog on lower back pain for more info!

Facet joint injuries

Your facet joints protect your back from moving or bending to extremes. They are full of nerve endings that make them particularly sensitive to damage. Whiplash is technically a facet joint injury. When this type of injury happens lower down in your spine, it can mimic a herniated disc, so it’s essential to have the correct diagnosis. Your chiropractor can perform spinal adjustments for rapid back pain relief in addition to ongoing guidance on postural improvements and ergonomics.

Don’t let car accident injuries get even worse

Like most other injuries, untreated car accident injuries can result in more severe side effects, including chronic pain and degenerative disease. Even minor pain from an accident should get an immediate diagnosis and treatment.

Call True Potential Chiropractic today at (503) 574-4872 to discuss a course of treatment appropriate to your accident recovery. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of your life’s True Potential!

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