You had a minor car accident a couple of days ago and now you've developed a headache and a stiff neck. This is a common reaction to what originally was a minor accident. Called whiplash, this painful condition can be treated successfully by a local chiropractic care clinic. Here is why you're having the pain now and what can be done to treat it.
Your Body's Defenses Delayed Your Pain
During the accident, your head and neck were forced back then forward suddenly. It happens so quickly that you're likely unaware it took place. The force causes small tears in the muscles in the neck and upper back. These areas become inflamed to cushion the body from further damage in the area. Days later as the swelling goes away, you begin to feel the pain from the injury, which manifests itself as headaches, neck pain and stiffness.
Treating the Whiplash Injury
The chiropractic treatment of whiplash consists of non-invasive techniques to stretch and relax the muscles in the neck, get rid of scar tissue and increase the circulation in the area. Two approaches are used to help your body heal from this injury.
Spinal manipulation - The force of the accident on your spine can cause alignment issues in the vertebrae at the top of the spinal column. Referred to as a subluxation, your chiropractor looks for these changes on X-rays and by manual examination. Often occurring in the first two vertebra, the alignment issues can be corrected by the gentle manipulation of those bones and the soft tissues surrounding them.
Trigger point therapy - With this type of injury, the muscles in your neck become tense and draw up, becoming shorter. This irritates the nerves traveling through the muscles and causes your headaches. Using special massage techniques, the chiropractor identifies tense muscles and helps them relax. They will feel for the tense muscles in your neck and massage them along their normal length, stretching them out. In severe cases, the muscle fibers form a knot and you may have muscle spasms. Direct pressure on the area can cause those muscles to relax and the spasms to stop.
You may need more than one session to address the tense muscles. Click here for more info on what to expect in chiropractic visits. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, will ease the pain as your muscles heal. Once your spine is back in alignment and the muscles in your neck have relaxed, the pain and stiffness in your neck will go away.