You had a small fender-bender a few days ago and today you're having intense headaches. This sounds like a whiplash injury because of the delay between the accident and the pain. Here is why the pain is happening now and how your chiropractor will relieve you of those headaches.
Your Body's Defenses Then Causes You Pain Now
During even a minor car accident, your head is forced back quickly, then forward. It happens in the fraction of a second so you may not notice it. Tiny tears result in the muscles in your upper back and neck due to the trauma. The muscles respond by contracting and restricting the blood flow. This causes inflammation in the area which creates a cushion to prevent any additional damage to the muscles.
You may feel nothing at all or perhaps a stiff neck for a couple of days. As the inflammation goes down in your neck, you begin to feel the pain from the torn muscles. Your neck will be sore and if the muscles irritate nerves that travel up to the head, you'll have headaches, too. You could put up with the pain for a few days or make a visit to your local chiropractor to get rid of the pain and stiffness sooner.
Chiropractic Treatment of Whiplash Injuries
Your chiropractor uses non-invasive techniques to relax the muscles in your upper back and neck. This increases the circulation in the area and reduces inflammation. This improves the healing of the muscle tears and stops the irritation of nerves causing your headaches. The chiropractor may recommend a combination of the following treatment options depending on the severity of the pain and swelling.
Active Release Technique - The chiropractor feels along your upper back and neck for muscles that are tense from the injury. The doctor then massages those muscles in the direction of their natural movement. This causes them to relax and lose their tension on the nerves passing through the area on the way up to your head. The stiffness goes away as well as the headaches.
Myofascial Release Technique - When the muscles are more severely damaged, they will tense up into a hard knot under the skin. You may experience painful muscle spasms in the area. When the chiropractor feels a knot, they will place steady pressure directly on the muscle with their knuckle or a special tool. Constant pressure for a few minutes makes the knot release and the muscle relax.
Physical Therapy - Using a combination of hot and cold packs, massage and range of motion exercises on your neck and upper back, the chiropractor loosens the tense muscles to get rid of the pain and inflammation. The doctor may recommend a series of physical therapy sessions to build up the muscle strength in your neck to protect you from similar injuries in the future. They will also show you exercises that you can do between sessions to help build up the muscles in your neck and upper back.
After I started working at my dad's lumber yard, I realized that some of my lifting habits were hurting my back. I realized that I couldn't stand up straight without wincing a little bit, so I decided to talk with a chiropractor about the issue. The professional carefully evaluated my condition and told me that I needed to focus on healthier back habits. I was able to learn how to stay safe at work by wearing a back brace and focusing on my posture. I want you to avoid debilitating back pain, which is one of the reasons I made this blog.