Neck injuries and whiplash symptoms can be minor and go away within a few days. However, whiplash symptoms can manifest days later and become varied and chronic, ranging from severe pain to cognitive problems. These are collectively called whiplash-associated disorders because of the varied complexity of the symptoms. A common condition is a whiplash nerve injury. These injuries can be severe and require chiropractic treatment.
Surrounding muscles, tissues, bones, or tendons can cause a whiplash nerve injury. The neck’s spinal nerve roots become compressed or inflamed, leading to cervical radiculopathy symptoms of tingling, weakness, and numbness that can radiate down the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. Typically, cervical radiculopathy is only felt on one side of the body, but in rare cases, it can be felt on both sides if more than one nerve root is affected.
Cervical radiculopathy involves one or more of the following neurological deficiencies.
Because every case is different, symptoms vary depending on the location and severity. Symptoms can flare up with certain activities, like looking down at a phone. The symptoms then go away when the neck is upright. For others, symptoms can become chronic and do not resolve when the neck is resting and supported. Common symptoms include:
The appropriate chiropractic treatment is unique to each whiplash nerve injury and is directed at the primary dysfunctions detected during the initial examination. A personalized treatment plan addresses factors in an individual’s work, home, and recreational activities. Treatment includes:
Goldsmith R, Wright C, Bell S, Rushton A. Cold hyperalgesia as a prognostic factor in whiplash-associated disorders: A systematic review. Man Ther. 2012; 17: 402-10.
McAnany SJ, Rhee JM, Baird EO, et al. Observed patterns of cervical radiculopathy: how often do they differ from a standard “Netter diagram” distribution? Spine J. 2018. pii: S1529-9430(18)31090-8.
Murphy DR. History and physical examination. In: Murphy DR, ed. Conservative Management of Cervical Spine Syndromes. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000:387-419.
Shaw, Lynn, et al. “A systematic review of chiropractic management of adults with Whiplash-Associated Disorders: recommendations for advancing evidence-based practice and research.” Work (Reading, Mass.) vol. 35,3 (2010): 369-94. doi:10.3233/WOR-2010-0996
Travell JG, Simons DG. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkens, 1999.
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