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Whiplash – What is the Best Type of Treatment?

Whiplash usually occurs when the head is suddenly whipped or snapped due to a sudden jolt, usually involving a motor vehicle collision. However, it can also occur from a slip and fall injury. So the question on deck is, which of the health care services best addresses the injured whiplash patient?

This question was investigated in a published study titled, A symptomatic classification of whiplash injury and the implications for treatment (Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine 1999;21(1):22- 25). The authors state conventional [medical] treatment utilized in whiplash care, “is disappointing.” The authors’ reference a study that demonstrated chiropractic treatment benefited 26 of 28 patients with chronic whiplash syndrome. The objective of their study was to determine which type of chronic whiplash patient would benefit the most from chiropractic treatment. They separated patients into one of 3 groups: Group 1: patients with “neck pain radiating in a ‘coat hanger’ distribution, associated with restricted range of neck movement but with no neurological deficit”; Group 2: patients with “neurological symptoms, signs or both in association with neck pain and a restricted range of neck movement”; Group 3: patients who described “severe neck pain but all of whom had a full range of motion and no neurological symptoms or signs distributed over specific myotomes or dermatomes.” These patients also “described an unusual complex of symptoms,” including “blackouts, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and chest pain, along with a nondermatomal distribution of pain.”

The patients underwent an average of 19.3 adjustments over the course of 4.1 months (mean). The patients were then surveyed and their improvement was reported:

Whiplash
These findings show the best chiropractic treatment results occur in patients with mechanical neck pain (group 1) and / or those with neurological losses (group 2). The exaggerated group (group 3) was the most challenging and, the only group where a small percentage worsened. The good news is, the number of cases that responded well to chiropractic treatment (groups 1 & 2) far out number those that don’t (group 3).Hence, most patients with whiplash injuries should consider chiropractic as their first choice of health care provision.