Whiplash Explained By Chiropractors, Yoga Experts and More
If you've had a car or truck accident, then there might be a chance that you're suffering from some form of Whiplash. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 2 million people per year suffer from some form of whiplash. If you think you might have whiplash, you will probably want to know how this will affect you both personally and legally and what you can do about it. In order to help, we've put together a guide to help navigate putting in a claim for whiplash, from what to do at the scene of your accident to documenting your pain and suffering.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a common injury to the neck that occurs when it experiences a sudden forward and backward movement. When this happens, the soft tissues (i.e. the muscles and ligaments of the neck) are extended beyond their normal or natural range of motion. When someone is described as having ‘whiplash’, it usually means that they have damage to both the bone structures and soft tissues of the neck. This injury can range from mild to severe with some people recovering within a few days and some going on to have long-term issues.

What Are The Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash does not always show immediately. In fact, it can often be more than a day or two after your accident before you start experiencing any symptoms.

If you’re not sure whether or not you have whiplash, here are a few ways you can identify it:

  • Pain in the neck
  • Reduced range of motion in your neck, or stiff neck.
  • Pain in the arm, back, muscles, shoulder or hand.
  • Dizziness/Vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Symptoms of Whiplash
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms might include: Problems focusing, weakness and slower reflexes in your arms and hands, numbness and pins and needles.

Usually after an accident, it can take a day or so to know if you have whiplash. The shock of the crash can numb our pain receptors so we might not feel any symptoms straight away.

Sometimes it can take a week or longer for the physical effects of an accident to show. In some cases, it can take years before a whiplash injury will rear its head. For this reason, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible after your car crash. Many people also choose to see a chiropractor who can recommend and make adjustments.

Our Whiplash Survey: A Breakdown

In early 2017, we took a survey of well-respected chiropractors in the South Carolina area to find out what types of injuries they were seeing and what their patients were reporting. The results were fascinating. Below are some of the findings:

Whiplash injury Settlement Payout Whiplash Effecting Daily Life How Long to Treat Whiplash How Do I Know If I Have Whiplash Whiplash From Car Accident
  • Tightness in the neck and back was a top symptom
    100% of the chiros interviews identified tightness and spasms in the neck and upper back as a top symptoms. With 70% reporting pain with movement in the neck , headaches and dizziness, and concussion. Abnormal burning and tingling sensations were the next most frequent at 60%.
  • 80% of patients have an idea that they have whiplash but want it confirmed.
    We found that most of the chiropractors’ patients believed they might have
    whiplash but wanted confirmation.
  • Most whiplash cases were moderate in nature.
    The chiros surveyed said that over 60% of the people they saw had a moderate whiplash injury. More severe and light injuries were equally prevalent.
  • Misconceptions about whiplash were common.
    The biggest misconception patients had was that whiplash would go away on its own.
  • Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash. Our survey showed that whiplash was most commonly the result of a car accident, although truck, motorcycle and other motor vehicles were also causes of whiplash.
  • Whiplash caused moderate disruption to people’s lives. 80% of the people surveyed said that whiplash caused moderate disruption to their lives.

Think You Might Have Whiplash? What You Should Do If You’re Involved in an Accident

There are many things that you can do that will help your case both at the scene of the accident and after. Below are some important ways in which you can take care of your best interests and help and improve your case for whiplash.

Document the Scene

You may need proof to assist in showing that the other party was responsible. Take many photographs of the damage to your car and also to their car. Get contact details from witnesses to the accident. It might also help to write down a description of what happened as soon as possible when you can most easily recall how it happened.

Do Not Make a Statement About Your Health at the Scene of the Crash

Usually after an accident you will be in some form of shock and any injuries may not show yet. For this reason, we strongly suggest that you do not make a statement about your medical state at the scene of the crash.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Visit an emergency room or doctor as soon as possible. This is very important, not only for your health but also should you decide to pursue a case further down the line. Documentation of your injuries and symptoms can play a key role in making a whiplash claim.

Keep Hold of All Medical Records

Whiplash Suffering Questions

Saving all information related to your medical treatment is key to putting forward your case as it provides proof of extent of your injuries. All forms and documents should be kept including:

  • Doctor’s notes/written diagnosis from doctors,
  • scans,
  • x-rays,
  • hospital admission forms,
  • test results.
  • Hospital bills
  • prescription medication

Once the initial treatment is over and you’re symptoms are improving, it can be easy to forget about going to the doctor. However, its very important to continue seeking professional treatment and also follow your doctor’s suggestions.

Track All Costs Associated With Your Whiplash Injury

Make sure you document all of the costs from your injury, from time off work to trips to the hospital, record all costs that come up. Keep invoices, doctor’s notes excusing time off work and receipts.

Record How it is Affecting Your Day-to-Day Life

Make sure to write down and record how the whiplash is affecting your life. From not being able to sleep, to missing activities and hobbies you might normally do – any way in which your life has been affected in a negative way should be recorded.

Get Legal Advice

If you think you might have a case, then the sooner that you speak to a whiplash lawyer, the better. For example, your insurance company might want to speak to you as soon as possible after an accident. This can sometimes work against you if you haven’t received legal advice. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and give you clear, honest advice about how you might be able to get compensation for your injuries.

Move Swiftly

This is key. There is absolutely no benefit gained from waiting in a situation where you have a whiplash injury. From getting medical help to seeking legal representation, moving at a good pace is important.


Whiplash Recovery: A Complex Process

Recovering from whiplash is not always a straightforward process. This is unsurprising with such a complex injury with so many symptoms. Whiplash can come back at any time, sometimes even years later and can be triggered by a second accident or even overuse of the neck or back/spine.

As many as there are symptoms and effects, so too are there potential treatments. While nearly everyone agrees that treatment is necessary, different specialists offer different ways of tackling this complex and diverse injury.

Getting Aligned With Adjustments

Many whiplash victims seek chiropractic treatments, which has an emphasis on manual adjustment of the spine. The chiropractor will make manipulations and seek to identify and rectify issues in this area. Sessions for whiplash can be both short or long term depending on the severity of the injury and symptoms presented.

However, Dr Brian Lima of familychiroworks, believes that whiplash victims often go too long before seeking treatment,

    “Unfortunately, many of these types of injuries go untreated, due to the initial pain levels of these injuries being mild to minimal. Many individuals think the pain will go away over time. However, studies have shown that if left untreated, these individuals may experience decreased mobility, along with weakness, and potentially chronic pain for several years following the accident.”

Dr Adam Bunce of HealthSourceChiro.com also talks of the importance of early treatment,

    “In all likelihood, pain will continue for many patients even after they have received extensive treatment following a whiplash injury. It is of utmost importance for all patients to understand the value in continuing at-home strengthening exercises of the cervical musculature, so they can avoid a lifetime neck and upper back pain.”

This was something that was reiterated by many chiropractors, who felt it was important people understood that not getting treatment from a specialist with knowledge of spinal issues could be the difference between early resolution and problems presenting down the road.

Dr Ralph Roles of charlestonneckandback.com also agrees with this viewpoint and that those suffering from whiplash should not equate a smaller accident with a lesser injury.

    “Even minor automobile accidents can result in long term mechanical injury and degeneration if not treated properly. Anyone involved in an auto accident should be evaluated by a doctor with training in mechanical distress of the spinal column secondary to whiplash type injury. Proper treatment can save you from problems years down the road!”

An Ancient Tradition for a Modern Problem?

Another type of treatment that is becoming more popular for whiplash is yoga. With devotees around the world, yoga is already a common prescription for people with general back issues.

However it has also started becoming a popular choice for those diagnosed with whiplash too. Not all poses are suitable for neck injuries, but many yogis and doctors agree that gentle stretching exercises after their neck is healed can reduce the risk of pain and stiffness in the long term.

Griffin Peddicord of Reduxyoga.com explains how he uses yoga to help treat whiplash to help promote recovery,

    “Historically yoga postures were used on a prescriptive basis..After the proper clearing from the yoga student’s physician we tailor daily movements to ameliorate the discomfort and facilitate healing”.

However, he emphasises that yoga for whiplash must always be practised with the oversight of a doctor or other medical professional,

    “It is never recommended that individuals practice these postures without the proper supervision and clearance from a medical professional.”

It seems that it’s not only stretching that can offer relief within Yoga practice. Brian Delaney of vibrantlifeyogastudio.com also recommends yoga and highlights mindful breathing as being particularly helpful,

    “The post-traumatic stress from a whiplash injury can be managed with the practice of deep breathing techniques commonly taught in mindful yoga classes. The central nervous system is directly affected by the relaxing benefits of elongated exhalations. Mindful breathing in conjunction with the stretching benefit of practicing yoga postures is an excellent way to begin the healing process from a whiplash injury.”

Taking the Hands-On Approach

Physical therapists offer support to patients to help them manage their condition to reduce or stop any issues long-term. Their goal is to reduce pain, help improve motion and restore function by using a range of techniques including massage,mobilization, physical manipulation and pressure.

Dr Dawn Chambers of Carolina Physical therapy and Wellness, believes that physical therapy is critical in providing support and it often only takes just a few sessions,

    Physical therapy can help patients with whiplash regain proper function and movement of the affected soft tissues—improving neck movement and strength. Recovery time is different for everyone, but typically, whiplash patients only need to attend therapy sessions for two to four weeks

A Doctor’s Opinion

Dr Marc Dubnik MD has seen many patients with whiplash injuries and say that accident victims risk permanent or lasting pain if they don’t get the help they need early,

    Neck injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents are not to be ignored. They should be evaluated as soon as possible in an effort to prevent long-term problems.

    He explains the diagnostic techniques and treatments that might likely be provided to someone who has experienced a ne0ck injury,

      A physical examination will be performed by the physician, and imaging studies including x-rays and treatment including non-narcotic medications, physical therapy, or chiropractic treatment may be recommended.

      Dr. Marion McMillon MD points out that although the injury can be serious it vary rarely requires the patient to undergo an operation,

        A Varied Injury with One Consensus

        Whatever treatment was prescribed all specialists in this area agreed that getting seen by a Doctor first and foremost was essential. They also confirmed that any treatment process must be undertaken with the agreement and supervision of a qualified medical professional.

        While practices and techniques differed amongst those we spoke too, they all agreed one thing – that getting seen early was key to avoiding problems later on.

        Dr. Sarah Moore

        Dr Sarah Moore
        Upper Cervical Chiropractic

        Dr. Moore has come to understand and truly appreciate the dramatic effects that Upper Cervical Care and a properly functioning nervous system can have on the entire body. She is passionate about educating her patients and her community on natural health care and is very active in her own Upper Cervical continuing education.

        Dr. Brian Lima

        Dr Brian Lima
        Family Chiropractic & Massge of Charleston

        Dr. Lima graduated from Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, SC in 1997. He received his undergraduate degree from Utah Valley University in Orem, UT. Dr. Lima began a private practice in North Charleston in 1998 when he opened Family Chiropractic and Massage of Charleston. In 2000 he expanded to the downtown Summerville area and in 2010 into the town of Moncks Corner.

        Dr. Ralph D. Roles

        Dr Ralph Roles
        Charleston Neck and Back

        Dr. Ralph D. Roles was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. His first experience with chiropractic came as a teenager, when he was treated for an asthmatic condition. In 1987, Dr. Roles opened Charleston Neck & Back Center and has cared for thousands of people around the Lowcountry.

        Dr. Norman Bishop

        Dr Norman Bishop
        Trident Chiropractic

        Dr. Norman Bishop graduated from Life University’s School of Chiropractic in Atlanta and began practicing in the West Ashley area of Charleston in 1986, opening an office in Goose Creek in 1987 and relocating to North Charleston in 1998. His postgraduate studies include: spinal rehabilitation, extremity adjusting, scoliosis management, pediatric and geriatric chiropractic techniques, sports injury rehabilitation, clinical nutrition and Gonstead technique methods.

        Dr. Shariff

        Dr Alykhan Shariff
        Advanced Spinal Care

        Dr. Alykhan Shariff established Advanced Spinal Care in 2001 after moving to Charleston from upstate New York. Dr. Shariff earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in December 2000 from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY. He has extensive experience and expertise in pain management including but not limited to back pain, neck pain, headaches, and numbness and tingling of the extremities.

        Dr. Adam Bunce

        Dr Adam Bunce
        Health Source Chiro

        Dr. Bunce graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition in 2002 from Winthrop University, and then attended Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida earning a Doctor of Chiropractic in 2005. He opened Bunce Chiropractic in his hometown of Hartsville, SC.in 2008, serving the Lexington community. Dr Bunce is the elected Secretary/Treasurer of the South Carolina Chiropractic Association and in 2012 was named the South Carolina Young Chiropractor of the Year.

        Dr. Shelly Jones

        Dr Shelly Jones
        Chiropractic Wellness Center

        Dr. Shelly Jones has been practicing chiropractic for over 33 years. She has a family practice in the Forest Acres area of Columbia and provides family care, as well as care for whiplash and concussion injuries and accidents. Dr. Jones has also been voted “Best Chiropractor” 2015, 2016, and 2017 by readers of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine.

        Dr. Rody

        Dr. Rody - Devine Chiropractic
        Devine Chiropractic

        Devine Chiropractic is equipped to get you back to pre-injury condition and our goal is to make that process comfortable for you. Dr. Rody is a graduate of South Carolina’s Sherman College of Chiropractic and uses specialized chiropractic techniques to improve auto accident conditions such as whiplash, headaches, back, shoulder, and radiating pain. Our office utilizes decompression and massage therapy to relieve disc conditions and muscle issues.

        Dr. David H. Mruz

        Eastside Chiropractic
        Eastside Chiropractic

        Eastside Chiropractic PA has been serving Greenville SC and the upstate of South Carolina for over 35 years. Dr. David H. Mruz interned in Pittsburgh PA in 1980 and moved to Greenville to begin his practice in the upstate. Dr. Mruz practices with an emphasis on neck pain, back pain and soft tissue injuries which are common to motor vehicle accidents. Treatment is accomplished with procedures researched as safe, effective and pain free.

        Dr. Tyeler Berry

        Greater Carolina Clinic Chiropractic
        Greater Carolina Clinic Chiropractic

        Greater Carolina Clinic is located in Northeast Columbia. At our clinic we treat the patients like family and have a strong desire to see the patients heal from their injuries. We promote a life of health and wellness. Dr. Tyeler Berry is a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician®. We offer a wide variety of treatment techniques and have experience with whiplash, pediatric, pregnancy, and sports injuries.

        Disclaimer: The Green Law Firm is not giving medical advice and does not take any responsibility or liability for consequences arising from any recommendations made on this page by third parties or otherwise. For medical advice; speak to your Doctor, or if you are injured and it is an emergency, call 911.

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