How a Chiropractor Can Treat Whiplash

How a Chiropractor Can Treat Whiplash

man experiencing whiplash after auto accident

More than 2 million Americans experience whiplash every year – and not just in car accidents. Other activities can cause whiplash as well, like sports, exercise, outdoor recreation, slipping and falling, and so on. It doesn’t take a lot of force to cause whiplash and the risk of injury becomes greater as we get older.

People usually don’t worry about whiplash unless the pain becomes unbearable or they experience restricted motion in their neck. However, whiplash can have severe long-term consequences that make it difficult to lead a healthy life, such as shooting pain in neck, shoulders, or back; inability to turn your head; jaw pain; muscle stiffness; dizziness when standing; severe headaches; and more. 

 If you suspect you’re suffering from a whiplash injury, it’s essential to receive treatment from a qualified professional. Chiropractic care has emerged as a preferred solution for whiplash because it helps treat the root cause of the symptoms, thus providing long-lasting results. At Oak Brook Medical Group, our team takes a holistic approach to treating whiplash injuries that includes chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic massage, and muscle stimulation.

In this post, you’ll learn what whiplash is, what some common whiplash symptoms are, and how chiropractors and other health professionals can treat whiplash.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a condition that happens when a rapid and sudden movement forces your neck (cervical and upper spine) to move in ways that lead to injuries. The trauma stretches muscles and tendons and misaligns your spine. The injuries generally lead to stiffness and pain in the neck and spine.

While whiplash refers to a single concept, it can have a broad range of effects on your body. Experts term the conditions caused by whiplash as “whiplash-associated disorders,” and these are pretty common in people who experience whiplash due to a car accident, sports activities, exercise mishap, and other reasons.

Depending on the severity, whiplash can either be an emergency condition or a mild issue.

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

The symptoms of whiplash largely depend on the severity of the condition and how the incident compressed or hyperextended your neck. The greater the compression or extension, the greater the risk of injuries.

A key component of whiplash symptoms is timing. Some people experience symptoms immediately following the injury, whereas other people experience them a few days or weeks later. This means some people begin treatment early and others don’t get treatment until the whiplash injuries have worsened.

Whiplash can have various effects on your body, especially in the neck and along the spine. Its symptoms are classified into different grades. Below you’ll find the grades of symptoms caused by whiplash. Learning about each grade is helpful when developing a personalized treatment plan with a trusted chiropractor in Oak Brook.

Grade 0

At this level, the affected person may not feel any pain or any other symptoms. Moreover, other signs of injuries might not be prevalent at this stage. Usually, people who experience whiplash due to sports activities have it at Grade 0.

Grade 1

In Grade 1 whiplash, the person starts to feel pain when moving the neck. They may also experience:

  • Tenderness when touched around the injury or affected muscles.
  • Stiffness in the neck when moving.

Grade 2

At this level, a person may experience acute pain, plus other signs of injury. The pain can fluctuate depending on how you move your neck muscles and spinal joints. It can radiate to other parts of the body, such as the shoulders, face, head, and back.

Some other symptoms of whiplash in Grade 2 include:

  • Muscle spasms 
  • Swelling 
  • Sensitivity to being touched around the injury 

Grade 3 

Besides pain, swelling, and sensitivity, whiplash in Grade 3 can include neurological symptoms. The swelling around the spine disrupts the signals traveling through the nerves to and from the brain. 

Some symptoms of Grade 3 whiplash include:

  • Numbness (loss of ability to feel cold, hot, or pain in or around the affected area).
  • Tingling or burning sensations in the neck, upper arms, and shoulders. 
  • Muscle weakness. 
  • Vision problems (due to neurological disruptions).
  • Vertigo or dizziness.

Grade 4

The highest whiplash grade needs immediate attention. The symptoms usually include everything from Grade 3, but on a scale of high severity. 

Some other common symptoms include:

  • Nausea 
  • Irritability 
  • Ringing in the ears 
  • Fatigue 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Pain in the legs, arms, feet, and hands 

Irrespective of the grade of whiplash and its symptoms, you may opt for chiropractic care after consulting your healthcare provider. Chiropractic adjustments can help reduce pain, inflammation, and other symptoms so you get better relief and have a quicker recovery.

Contact Oak Brook Medical Group to schedule a new patient exam and get primary whiplash treatment from the best team of chiropractors, nurses, and physical therapists. 

Common Causes of Whiplash 

Typically, whiplash injuries occur when your neck is quickly or forcefully thrown backward and then forwards, often in a car accident. This rapid and sudden movement can cause injuries to the spinal bones, ligaments, nerves, muscles, and other neck tissues. 

You may experience whiplash injury as a result of:

Auto Accidents 

Auto accidents contribute to the greatest number of whiplash cases in the United States. Usually, rear-end collisions that cause the neck to move forward and then backward result in whiplash injury.

Contact Sports 

Contact sports such as football and rugby can sometimes mean collisions between players. The force and angle of collision can lead to whiplash.

Physical Assault or Abuse 

Whiplash can also occur if someone punches you or shakes you vigorously. Shaken baby syndrome is a common name for whiplash in infants.

Can a Chiropractor Treat Whiplash?

Yes, chiropractic care can help treat whiplash while alleviating its symptoms. Whether you have suffered from severe trauma or you are just experiencing mild discomfort, a chiropractor can help relieve pain while restoring the flexibility and motion of the muscles.

Chiropractic care has a high rate of providing successful whiplash treatment because of its non-invasive nature. Moreover, this type of care is aimed at fixing the root cause of the issue, so the patients get better relief from pain and other symptoms of whiplash.

How Do Chiropractors Determine the Severity of Whiplash and How Do They Treat It?


The chiropractors at Oak Brook Medical Group follow a holistic approach to determine the severity of the condition. Moreover, they devise a personalized treatment plan depending on the grade of the whiplash and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Here’s a brief explanation of how chiropractors determine whiplash and treat it:

  1. Consultation

 During the first appointment, the chiropractor will conduct various tests and use tools to comprehensively assess your case. They will evaluate your symptoms, the circumstances surrounding the injury, your overall health, and more. The medical professional will put together these details to tailor a treatment plan for you. 

Some of these assessments include analyzing walking patterns and posture. Expert chiropractors at the Oak Brook Medical Group also analyze spinal alignment to determine how whiplash might be affecting other areas.  

Following their whiplash treatment suggestions is essential to help ensure that you fully heal from the injury and get some relief from pain. Our chiropractors also check for any areas you may experience restricted motion, disc injury, nerve damage, muscle spasms, soft tissue injuries, and other conditions resulting from whiplash. 

  1. Initial Treatment 

After the chiropractors have completely assessed your case, they move forward by recommending an initial treatment plan. The initial plan tends to be more gentle and is completely non-invasive as compared to later stages. 

Some initial chiropractic treatments include techniques to alleviate muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain. Usually, chiropractors prefer to perform gentle repeated strokes and gentle stretching in order to reduce muscle stress.

  1. Spinal and Neck Adjustments 

Moving the treatment forward, the chiropractor will perform several types of spinal and neck adjustments. These adjustments will help restore the spine back to its original health. It is an effective chiropractic treatment to realign the neck and spine and alleviates the pain caused by nerve pressure. Moreover, it helps restore proper blood flow to the affected area, improving the range of motion.

  1. Advanced Muscle and Physical Therapy 

In order to improve the effectiveness of spinal and neck adjustments, chiropractors can also recommend advanced muscle therapy. Usually involving touch therapy, this phase helps alleviate muscle pain while improving alignment. 

Some common types of muscle therapy treatments include:

Besides muscle therapy, your chiropractor may also add other physical therapy to the treatment depending on the nature of the injury. Physical therapy can be done along with other chiropractic treatments to heal whiplash and provide you with effective pain relief. 

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Whiplash 

Whiplash can have several symptoms, such as shooting pain, restricted movement of the neck, trouble concentrating, extreme fatigue, vertigo, and more. Chiropractic care helps address most of these symptoms, thus, making it a preferred treatment among whiplash patients. 

Here are some benefits of opting for chiropractic care for whiplash.

Helps Alleviate Pain 

Whiplash is a result of vigorous motion so it can produce a lot of pain and inflammation in the soft tissue of the affected area. Chiropractic care focuses on correcting spinal alignment while releasing stress from the muscles, and therefore, reducing the pain and inflammation. 

With hands-on chiropractic care, you can expect relief from pain in just a few sessions (provided you follow the chiropractic treatment plan religiously). Devices such as lasers, therapeutic tools, and ultrasounds used by chiropractors also contribute to suppressing chronic pain.

Drug-Free Treatment 

Whiplash treatment may involve a lot of drugs and medications if you follow the conventional route by seeing a different healthcare provider. While the treatment largely depends on the severity (grade) of whiplash, chiropractic care is an approach that focuses on just spinal manipulation, massage therapy, and physical therapy. 

Unlike drugs and medications, chiropractic care doesn’t have any side effects in the long run. Most methods used in this hands-on treatment involve massages and physical therapies that offer relief from pain without intervening with the central nervous system.

Another advantage of chiropractic care for whiplash is that it’s not addictive, and you can keep using the treatment as long as you like.

Reduces or Eliminates the Risk of Surgery 

Whiplash treatment rarely requires surgery. However, if the severity grade is above Grade 4, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. When whiplash injury is left unaddressed or untreated, the chances of surgery can increase. 

Opting for chiropractic care for whiplash not only reduces the pain, but also minimizes the risk of needing surgery. Chiropractors can offer the extra care your body needs to heal itself, and non-invasive treatments can be really effective in restoring spinal health.

In some cases, surgery may be required, but with chiropractor care, you can delay the surgery. These non-invasive treatments also help in having a quicker recovery after whiplash surgery.

Treats the Underlying Issue 

Over-the-counter painkillers can quickly mask the chronic pain caused by whiplash, but these medicines don’t treat the underlying issue. On the other hand, chiropractic care for whiplash begins with determining the root cause, such as a professional chiropractor assessing the position of the spinal column.

Furthermore, the treatment provided in chiropractic care is aimed at repositioning the spine or releasing stress from the muscles, which helps treat the underlying issue. 

Personalized Care 

Every case of whiplash is different. Sometimes it can be caused by a car accident, and other times sports activities can lead to whiplash. Depending on the severity and cause of whiplash, the chiropractors devise an individualized treatment plan.

The treatment plan is a combination of relieving pain and fixing functional issues (stiffness in the muscles) you are experiencing.

At Oak Brook Medical Group, we examine our patients to understand their body’s physical needs and the cause of the issue. Our chiropractors will track your moments, such as walking and standing, to determine the right exercises to help relieve pain. Our chiropractors and therapists then work together to provide customized care that helps treat whiplash and its symptoms. 

Long-Term Health and Stability 

The complications from a whiplash injury can vary depending on its severity and other factors. The side effects can worsen over time and may lead to other health issues as well.

Chiropractic care for whiplash doesn’t involve highly invasive treatments so the risk of side effects is on the lower side. You can also expect the health benefits to last longer.

In addition, you can continue the chiropractic treatment even after relieving your whiplash symptoms for added health benefits such as increased range of motion and greater flexibility.

Chiropractic Treatment Methods for Whiplash 

There are specific spinal manipulation techniques that chiropractors in Oak Brook use to treat whiplash. The use of these techniques majorly depends on the severity of the injury and your preferences. Some commonly used techniques include:

Instrument-Assisted Therapy 

Chiropractors often utilize instrument-assisted therapy for Grades 0, 1, and 2 whiplashes to help treat injured soft tissues. The professionals use a special hand-held device that is applied to your body with force but without thrusting the spine.

The instrument-assisted manipulation is mostly suitable for older patients and people with issues like degenerative joint syndrome. 

Spinal Manipulation 

Usually, whiplash affects the spine. If the chiropractic professional finds an issue with the spine, they use this technique to restore motion with a gentle thrusting technique. 

The thrusting stimulates the central nervous system while stretching the soft tissue to help the spine revert back to its normal motion capabilities.

In addition to spinal manipulation, a professional chiropractor may also include manual therapy to treat the soft tissues (muscles and ligaments). Some common examples of manual therapies include:

Therapeutic Massage 

Therapeutic massage involves releasing the muscle tension in or around the neck. A chiropractor may use tools or can provide therapeutic massage using their hands. 

Trigger Point Therapy 

Trigger point therapy helps chiropractors identify specific painful points by putting pressure on different areas using their hands or fingers. By putting pressure on specific points, the chiropractor can alleviate the muscle tension in order to reduce pain and improve the muscle’s flexibility.

Flexion Distraction Technique

A thrust-free method can be used by chiropractors to treat whiplash. The flexion distraction technique involves manipulating a herniated disc. If your whiplash injury has aggravated a herniated disc, the chiropractor may use a pumping action on the disc instead of applying direct force to the spine.

Manual Resistance and Joint Stretching Techniques 

The most common example of this chiropractic technique is stretch therapy. Again, the aim is to reduce muscle pain and improve the motion of the affected area. (Check out these five benefits of stretch therapy.)

When Should I See a Chiropractor for Whiplash?

There are certain times when you need to see a chiropractor right away after suffering from whiplash. While there are many other possible causes of whiplash, it is not uncommon to experience whiplash if you get into a traffic accident. The following are some clear signs that indicate you should see an Oak Brook chiropractor for whiplash. 

You’ve Met with an Accident 

Getting in a car accident doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get whiplash. However, the chances are high, especially if you experience pain in the neck. Sometimes the symptoms may take a few days to appear; therefore, it is essential to see a chiropractor after you have been in an accident. Here’s how soon you can come for chiropractic treatment after a car accident.

You’re Experiencing Pain in the Neck 

Pain in or around the neck is a common symptom of whiplash. Also, if you feel the inability to move or stretch your neck, it could be a sign of whiplash. Seeing a chiropractor in Oak Brook is highly advised to get rid of neck pain and other symptoms.

You Are Experiencing Other Symptoms

Besides neck pain, some other symptoms of whiplash may include blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue. If you experience any of these symptoms after you have met with an accident or your healthcare provider has confirmed whiplash, you should contact a chiropractor in Oak Brook. 

 You Want Your Neck Muscles to Stay Healthy 

Even after the whiplash has healed properly, you can continue opting for chiropractic care to ensure your neck muscles remain flexible. Chiropractors ensure that the muscles remain free from stiffness, so you can stretch or move your neck comfortably without any issues. 

What Is the Length of Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash?

The length or duration of the treatment depends on several factors, such as the severity of the injury and your response to treatment. Average recovery from whiplash may take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, with periodic visits to the chiropractor center. 

Whiplash could occur in addition to other misalignments, injuries, and conditions. It’s better to have holistic treatment, which may increase the overall duration of the treatment. 

It is essential to finish the treatment plan made by your chiropractor to prevent the injury from worsening. 

Get Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash with Oak Brook Medical Group 

Whiplash is one of the leading causes of chronic disability in the United States. While getting proper treatment for whiplash will help minimize its effects, you must make sure you choose a qualified chiropractor to provide the best treatment for your needs.

At Oak Brook Medical Group, our chiropractors can customize the treatment plan for whiplash based on each patient’s condition. We use advanced technology and proven techniques to restore full function and mobility to your body.

Our team of experienced doctors, nurses, therapists, and other staff are here to assist you. If you want to know more about recovering from whiplash, we encourage you to schedule an appointment today!

For further information about our services, call us at 630-317-7478.