Auto Accident Whiplash Injury: Top 5 FAQs
If you have recently been in an auto accident, you may have sustained a whiplash injury to the cervical spine. While whiplash is most frequently caused by a fender bender, this injury can also be caused by a sports accident or even a rollercoaster ride at an amusement park. Could you be suffering pain because of a whiplash injury? Below, our Lexington chiropractor answers five of your most frequently asked questions.
What causes whiplash pain?
Whiplash pain occurs when an external force “whips” the cervical spine beyond its normal range of motion. For example, the force of a rear-impact car accident injury can “whip” the neck backwards and forwards, resulting in a cervical spine misalignment. This misalignment places pressure on nearby nerves, which in turn may trigger neck pain, headaches and migraines. Additionally, the unexpected force can strain ligaments and soft tissues in the neck, causing soreness and stiffness. This combination of chronic pain and reduced mobility characterizes a whiplash injury.
I’ve already visited the emergency room; do I still need to visit a chiropractor?
Yes, even if you have received care in a hospital, you will still benefit from visiting a chiropractor. For example, following an auto accident, if you complain of neck pain, a hospital may treat this pain with a cervical brace and prescribe medication. While medication can help temporarily relieve your pain, it is not a long-term solution. Additionally, while wearing a cervical brace immediately following an accident injury may be beneficial, extended wear inhibits mobility and actually delays the healing process. A chiropractor is specially trained to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal injuries, such as a whiplash injury.
How does chiropractic care treat neck pain?
Whiplash pain is typically due to a misalignment in the cervical spine. Chiropractic care is designed to restore proper alignment to the spine, relieving this pain. Additionally, our chiropractor may recommend complementary treatment options, such as corrective exercises and massage therapy. Corrective exercises are a safe, effective way to bring mobility back to the neck without risking re-injury. Depending on the extent of your pain management needs, massage therapy is also beneficial for releasing tension in the neck muscles and relieving pain.
Who pays for my treatment?
Typically, the insurance company for the party who is at-fault for the accident will cover treatment costs. This is why it is very important to receive a full diagnostic evaluation prior to settling with your insurance company. Early diagnosis also helps ensure that the full extent of your injuries is known prior to settling with your insurance company, which is critical for full treatment compensation.
My auto accident was a minor fender bender; should I still visit a chiropractor?
Yes; accidents at speeds as slow as 5mph can still knock the cervical spine out of alignment. The earlier you receive a diagnostic evaluation from our chiropractor, the more we can do to help manage your pain and reduce the risk for long-term problems.