Whiplash associated disorder, WAD, is a term used to describe a compilation of symptoms associated with whiplash – an injury affecting the neck caused by an acceleration and deceleration mechanism such as roller coasters or motor vehicles.
Whiplash may also occur from contact sports, blows to the head, falls, physical abuse, cycling accidents, or horseback riding as they could cause injury to the neck with a sudden change in movements.
Some cases of whiplash associated disorder are acute with full recovery while other cases may progress to chronic. A chronic case of whiplash associated disorder means living with long term pain and disability, which is why it is recommended to see a professional right away regarding your whiplash injury. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.
Signs of Whiplash Associated Disorder
You may not notice any signs of whiplash associated disorder until days after the injury has occurred. Often these signs are ignored, leading to worsening signs in the future. If you have a whiplash associated disorder, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Pain worsens with neck movement
- Headaches (typically starting near the base of the skull)
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Tenderness or pain in the upper back, shoulder, or arm
Depending on the event that occurred, signs of whiplash associated disorder may include the following:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sleep disturbances
- Blurred vision
- Issues with memory
- Difficulty concentrating
How Does Whiplash Associated Disorder Affect Daily Life?
Each person who has suffered from a whiplash associated disorder can be affected differently due to the nature of the accident that caused their injury and the state of their body when it occurred. Some risk factors that are linked to worse outcomes of whiplash include older age, high-speed injury, existing low back or neck pain, and history of having whiplash before.
The common signs of whiplash associated disorder can affect how a person pays attention to work, school, or in conversations due to difficulty concentrating. This can lead to irritation and depression as they notice this negative change happening frequently.
Having a loss of range in motion of the neck can affect the simplest daily activities including exercising and driving. With pain and stiffness in the neck, lifting heavy objects can become a problem and make it worse.
Other small changes that occur because of whiplash associated disorder can interrupt your daily flow. Blurry vision, dizziness, and having issues with memory can become annoying. If left untreated, these signs can occur more often and the injury itself can trigger different issues to arise.
Common Treatments for Whiplash Associated Disorder
The most common treatments for the whiplash-associated disorder are made to help manage pain, restore range of motion in your neck, and help you get back to doing your normal daily activities.
The following are common treatments for whiplash-associated disorder:
- Over-the-Counter Medications - To help with pain, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (like Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, and others) are often used to help mild to moderate pain associated with whiplash.
- Muscle Relaxants - Muscle relaxants are used to loosen any tight muscles and soothe the pain. These can make you feel sleepy as well and are sometimes used for helping one sleep if the pain has been keeping you awake.
- Injections - Depending on your severity, an injection of numbing medicine lidocaine (Xylocaine) may be used to reduce the pain so you can do physical therapy.
- Physical Therapy - This treatment helps whiplash pain and range-of-motion by guiding you through several exercises that aid in strengthening your muscles, improve posture, and hope to restore your natural movement. Sessions will vary from person to person and some cases may use a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to send mild electric currents to the skin to ease pain and improve the strength of your muscles temporarily.
Out of the above common treatments for the whiplash-associated disorder, none of the treatments focus on the main cause of your whiplash associated disorder. Whiplash is an injury that inflicts harm to the neck, but common treatments disperse attention from the injured area to focus on the signs instead.
Natural Effective Treatment that Targets the Cause of the Disorder
The cause of whiplash associated disorder is the injury to the neck itself. So how does one help an injured neck?
When whiplash occurs, it can shift your upper cervical spine (neck) out of alignment. The force that pushes your neck out of alignment can cause the vertebrae to press against, or pinch, the brain stem and/or surrounding nerves.
When this happens, brain to body communication may become distorted as the brain stem can no longer function properly while being compressed. Stress caused by the misalignment can take a toll on surrounding muscles and soft tissue, causing tension and numbness to occur.
The brain stem, when not functioning properly, can cause issues with memory, concentration, and sleep.
In addition, the now distorted brain to body communication can delay or even stop the injury from being repaired or healed properly due to mixed signals or signals that are not being sent at all to let the body know what it needs to do.
Sometimes signals can be sent without reason, such as pain signals. Many patients who had an injury that caused a misalignment to their neck have experienced intense pain throughout parts of the body without any known cause only to have the pain stop after an upper cervical correction.
This is because of false signals being sent from the body to the brain after the brain stem was unable to function normally.
Upper cervical chiropractic treatments are a natural, effective treatment for a whiplash-associated disorder that focuses on restoring proper functions of the brain stem and ensuring your neck is positioned correctly.
Many patients have reported relief after as little as one adjustment, even after the use of medication and injections have been unhelpful.
The reason behind this is simple: The injured neck is moved back to its correct placement to remove all pressure placed upon the brain stem and surrounding nerves, which then restores the brain to body communication so signals can be transmitted back and forth to begin the healing process.
Although medications and injections may provide a sort of temporary relief, they do not help the neck move back in place or stop the vertebrae from pressing on your brain stem. This means without fixing the actual problem located within the upper cervical spine, issues may continue to worsen over time – leading you to take more medication or an injection.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a whiplash associated disorder, a natural treatment that focuses on the cause of your signs can be extremely beneficial in providing the relief you are looking for.