You're in a minor fender bender with your car where nobody appears to be hurt. You wake up in a couple of days with neck pain and a headache. This delayed reaction to an injury from such an accident is referred to as whiplash and you'll want to see an auto accident chiropractor to treat the injury and get rid of the pain. Here is what happened to cause the pain and the typical ways a specialist can help you.
Your Body's Delayed Pain Response
What appeared to be a minor accident suddenly forced your head back, then forward, causing small tears in the muscles in your upper back and neck. In response to this, the muscles and tendons in that area become inflamed, which cushions your neck from further injury. It takes a day or two for this swelling to subside, at which time you start feeling the pain. The pain centers on your neck and upper back, but can extend up into your head, giving you the headache.
Chiropractic Treatment of a Whiplash Injury
Your chiropractor understands the relationship between the bones in your upper back and neck, the muscles, tendons and nerves. The goal of this doctor is to relieve your pain using non-invasive techniques. They can offer several options for treating this painful condition.
Spinal manipulation - The force of the accident can cause the bones in your neck to become slightly misaligned. Small changes in the relationship of the vertebrae to each other can cause pain and swelling in your neck. Your chiropractor calls this a subluxation and they will look for this using X-rays and by feeling along your spine. Usually occurring in the first two vertebrae, your doctor will move your spine back and forth to reposition the bones into their proper places.
Trigger Point Therapy - Injured muscles become tense and contract. The tense muscles irritate the nerves traveling through them causing the pain that radiated up into your head. With this treatment, the chiropractor identifies the tense muscles and applies pressure to get them to slowly relax. As the muscles relax, the swelling goes down and the pain is relieved.
Getting rid of the muscle tension in your neck can take several sessions. Your chiropractor doesn't want to force the muscles to relax too much too soon and risk injuring the muscles more. You can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain medication, such as ibuprofen, to reduce the pain while the corrective treatment is being done. Once the bones in your neck are properly aligned and the muscles are relaxed, you'll be free of the pain and stiffness from your minor car accident.
For more information, contact a chiropractor like those at the Citrus Chiropractic Group.