Whiplash and You

In our last blog, we talked about how minor car accidents can cause whiplash and how those symptoms linger if a patient doesn’t get adequate treatment. Today, we’re going to talk about some of the symptoms of whiplash, which isn’t always caused by a car accident.


Back before cars, whiplash was known as ‘railway spine,’ because train accidents caused it. The essential cause of whiplash is the head quickly moving forward and backward, or ‘whipped,’ usually caused by being hit from behind. It frequently occurs during car accidents, but can also be the result of a sports injury, a fall or work-related accident.

What we know about whiplash is sobering: the pain associated with a whiplash injury can cause severe and ongoing psychological problems as a result. Since over half of those studied over a 20 year period continued to have pain from a whiplash injury, it’s worthwhile to consider this phenomenon, its symptoms, and reliefs.

Symptoms of whiplash

The symptoms of whiplash generally include one of the following: 

Neck pain
A headache
Shoulder pain, 
Low back pain,
Blurred vision
Difficulty swallowing
Ringing in the ears
Fatigue or weakness
Vertigo or a feeling of movement

Depending on the severity of the accident, the doctor or emergency room may order X-rays, an MRI or other diagnostics to make sure the neck itself isn’t fractured. Often, patients are sent home with a neck brace and a bottle of pills with instructions to see their primary care doctor if the pain continues.

Of course, pills merely mask the symptoms and don’t treat the cause or bring lasting relief.  Aside from that, a host of emotional responses can follow, as well as the potential for drug dependency and sleep disruption.

To treat the problem of damage caused by whiplash, a patient needs more. Here are some of the things which can bring relief to a person who has whiplash:


Our society eschews rest like a hot dog at a five-star restaurant.  In fact, if you tell someone you’re going to take your ease, it’s likely that they won’t even recognize the expression since we don’t rest anymore. In fact, the United States is the least restful nation in the world, including being the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.


Some whiplash, in addition to rest, will benefit greatly from massage. The masseuse should be one who is familiar with dealing with whiplash types of injuries. Massage can bring lasting benefits, with or without an adjustment.


Following a whiplash type of injury, an adjustment may be necessary if it’s caused a spinal misalignment. Whiplash occurs in the upper cervical spine, which can respond well to adjustments in some circumstances.

Hot tub

Heat from a hot tub is soothing and relaxing, making it a natural option for a patient with a whiplash injury. Warmth for comfort cannot be underestimated in the recovery process.


There are exercises which can help a recovering whiplash victim. While these should always be done under the care of a professional, they can be done at home, thus hastening the healing process.

Regardless of the reason for a whiplash injury, it’s essential to seek medical advice for the care of a whiplash injury.

When you’re injured in a car accident, there is no reason to delay treatment due to lack of insurance or while waiting for insurance approval. Here at Northeast Portland Chiropractic, we treat car accident cases with zero out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Call 503-493-9730.