Whiplash Headaches- How chiropractic care can help you
For those of you who have injured your neck at any point in your life, the term ‘whiplash’ might have come across your mind. The condition is far from fatal, but makes your life super difficult and uncomfortable. Symptoms of whiplash include neck stiffening, neck pain, spasms, numbness, jaw pain, fatigue etc. But none of these symptoms are as annoying or as painful as headaches from whiplash injuries.
But why does whiplash give you headache?
Whiplash is a certain type of cervical spine injury. The sudden and extreme rocking that is known to cause whiplash injury causes displacement or injury within the cervical facet joints. Almost 66 percent of all cervical spine patients experience one type of headache or other. This is because the spinal cord is directly connected to your brain. The inflammation and irritation that is caused by cervical facet joint injury starts within the brain stem and the spinal cord. Whiplash-induced headaches predominantly occur at the back of the head, with a third of whiplash patients feeling pain all over their head.
For most patients, a headache shows up the next day after the accident for the first time. Preliminary treatment for this sweeping pain includes heat treatments in ailing spots, anti-inflammatory medication and massage from a professional masseuse. However, the pain tends to get worse as you move your neck- especially if the movement is in the form of an expansion. 80 percent of all whiplash victims face chronic headache, which is also known as cervicogenic headache.
How do chiropractors help with whiplash headaches?
The practice of chiropractic care focuses on the implementation of various medicinal and physical spinal manipulation techniques. For physical techniques, this means pressure is applied to align your cervical spine to its natural alignment by applying pressure. A few of these techniques have been discussed below:
The Flexion distraction technique
This is a gentler technique that treats pain via herniation in the discs. The difference between this technique and other harsher techniques is the amount of force applied. During flexion distraction, the chiropractor provides small concise pressures instead of direct force to the affected area.
If your headache is due to a soft tissue injury or just caused due to a muscle spasm, then manual therapy is the process your chiropractor will go for. Manual therapy is performed in many techniques including – therapeutic massage, stretching, trigger point therapy etc.
Instrument assisted manipulation
This process is another form of small force application technique like the Flexion distraction technique. The chiropractor or the technician will apply force without thrusting it into the spine. They will do so with a specialized hand-held instrument and will only use this technique with older patients with degenerative joint syndrome.
Specific Spinal Manipulation
For this technique, the chiropractor identifies spinal joints that do not show normal motion. Then, the chiropractor will work on motion restoration to the targeted joint with a gentle thrusting technique. This stretches soft tissue and stimulates the nervous system.