How to Help Prevent Whiplash

(Last Updated On: November 25, 2019)

whiplash pain
Whiplash most commonly occurs as the result of a car accident, but it can also come from a contact sport, horseback riding, abuse, falls, and riding a fast roller coaster. It happens when you are struck from the back at a fast rate with intense impact. However, whiplash can also occur when you are struck from different angles as well.

When you are struck by a big impact, your body is immediately jolted forward with force, but your head stays back for a split second before it catches up with the movement on your body. When this happens, your head moves up and back quickly and the impact can damage and tear muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Your head may also rock to the side or backward as well resulting in whiplash.

Although there is nothing you can do to completely prevent whiplash, as many times it is completely out of your control, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.

In this article, we will take a look at the symptoms of whiplash, prevention and minimizing the risk of getting whiplash, and some common treatments for whiplash if you have suffered injury from a car accident or other form of impact.

Symptoms of Whiplash

When an injury occurs like whiplash, you will feel your head and neck jolt suddenly in a direction, which should alert you to the potential of a whiplash injury. Often time though, the injury takes about twelve to twenty-four hours to fully develop. You may have no pain right after the accident. Pain will typically develop the following day and become worse as the following days go on. It may also take discomfort, bruising, and swelling a few days to develop as well.

Some of the most common whiplash symptoms include the following:

• Pain and stiffness in the neck
• Headaches
• Shoulder pain
• Pain between the shoulder blades
• Lower back pain
• Pain and numbness in the arm or the hand
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Memory issues or difficulty concentrating
• Vision problems
• Difficulty sleeping

Prevention and Minimizing Risk of Getting Whiplash

It is impossible to completely mitigate the risk of getting whiplash. You do not have complete control over whether or not you get into a car accident, fall, or get injured while playing a sport. However, since the most common reason people get whiplash is from a car accident, there are a few ways you can try to minimize your risk of getting whiplash from a car accident.

Proper Headrest Alignment

When you are in the car, you will want to make sure your headrest is adjusted properly. If your headrest is in the correct position for your body, you can reduce the risk of getting whiplash when you are in a car accident. This is a simple prevention technique that many people overlook when they get into a car. It is second nature to fasten your seatbelt when you get into the car, but it is much less likely you are worried about the headrest being in the proper position. If it is aligned right, if you get rear-ended, you can save your head and neck from some serious injuries.

Your headrest should at least touch the top of your head when you are driving. It should sit no more than four inches away from the back of your head as well.

Maintain Good Posture

When you are driving, keep good posture at all times. Make sure you are sitting straight and tall, are not slouching, and keep your neck, head, and shoulders back. This will ensure your head is properly aligned with the headrest just in case an accident occurs.

If you are driving and you see you are about to get into a crash, position yourself right away. Keep sitting tall, rest your head back on the headrest, and brace yourself. This will minimize the risk and effects of whiplash.

Other Tips

Since whiplash can occur in places other than the car, you can make sure you are safe in other certain circumstances as well. Take precaution playing sports where you may get hit from behind or side hard.

Be careful if you are climbing something as falling can give you whiplash as well. Don’t stand on something this is unstable and make sure you have proper footing when you are standing at a greater height.

Natural Whiplash Treatments

massage for whiplash

Most of the time, whiplash is easily treatable and not life threating. It can take a few months to recover from the injury if your accident was particularly bad. Generally, the most common natural treatment options include:

Herbs to reduce pain and inflammation
• Herbs like Kava to help relax the muscles
• Cervical collars
• Heat pads
• Massage and acupuncture
• Physical therapy
Neck strengthening exercises

Chiropractic care

Chiropractic care will often be recommended as well. In fact, one study found that 93% of patients that suffered from long-term effects of whiplash injury found relief and improvement following a series of chiropractic treatments. These findings suggest that chiropractic adjustments are an effective and promising way to help reduce issues associated with whiplash.

Chiropractic treatment can help relieve muscle tension and help muscles relax after injury. Stretches can also reduce tension and contractions within the neck muscles. Adjustments can also realign your spine, which often is affected after a serious impact on the body. If you are looking for a chiropractor for whiplash, most offices will be able to address your concerns and needs and help you get back to feeling yourself again! Getting rid of your whiplash may feel frustrating, but it is completely doable if you take control of your healing process.

Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief, such as chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical therapy in Anchorage, Wasilla, and Juneau. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles. He is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.