Category Archives: Chiropractic

Neck Pain and Auto Injury

Neck pain is the most common symptom after a rear-end collision, affecting 90% of people in a crash. In this video, we describe what happens during a crash and how the spine can be injured.

Chiropractic is a great way to recover from auto injuries. Chiropractic has been proven to improve neck range of motion and early intervention has been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic symptoms.

Arm Pain After a Car Accident

Arm pain after a car accident – along with shoulder pain – are common symptoms. There are three common ways that arm symptoms can develop after a car crash.

First, shoulder symptoms may actually be due to neck injury. If the ligaments or discs in the neck are injured, they can cause problems with the nerves that travel from the arm. This type of injury can result in either immediate or delayed arm and shoulder symptoms.

Second, the violent force of an auto collision can directly damage the shoulder, arm or wrist. This type of injury usually results in shoulder and arm pain soon after the collision.

Third, the shoulder and arms can become painful from tension in the neck and back caused by whiplash injury. This type of shoulder pain may take a few weeks or months to develop after the crash.

Why do more women have whiplash than men? Not because of small necks

In previous posts, we’ve written about how men and women experience auto accidents differently; particularly, women are more prone to whiplash symptoms than men. For a long time, scientists thought that this was a result of women’s reduced neck muscle volume. The idea was that reduced neck muscles means women have less protective bracing around their cervical spine when it is whipped out of its normal range of motion. While this hypothesis makes sense, it may not be true according to new research published in the Journal of Magnetic Imaging.

Most studies of whiplash look at patients within the first few weeks or months after the auto accident.  Many of these studies have noted that whiplash patients have reduced neck muscles compared to people without whiplash. Researchers in this study pointed out that this decreased muscles volume may be a result of muscle atrophy from a patients not moving their neck as much due to pain. To rule out this variable, researchers took the unique approach of examining patients within the first 48 hours after an auto accident.

Researchers looked at 38 patients with whiplash, and 38 healthy participants. They found that patients’ initial muscle volumes were about the same as participants without whiplash. They also confirmed that women had smaller neck muscles around their cervical spine, or the part of the spine comprising the neck. Despite having smaller cervical spine muscles, women did not tend to have more neck and head pain than men. Instead, having greater cervical spine muscles tended to mean less neck pain and more headaches amongst both sexes.

These surprising results lead researchers to conclude that reduced muscle volume in women does not increase their likelihood of having whiplash symptoms.  “Although essentially a negative result,” researchers wrote, ” this is…worthy of publishing as we are correcting a misunderstanding.” These findings contribute to scientists’ work to better understand the complexity of whiplash.


Ulbrich, Erika, et al. “Cervical Muscle Area Measurements in Acute Whiplash Patients and Controls.” Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imagine 33 (2011): 668-675.

Fear of movement can worsen whiplash

Imagine what happens when you injure your neck. Your muscles contract, there’s a burst of pain, and a soreness that makes you want to avoid moving your neck too much or turning too far. You may worry about re-injuring yourself or you may think, “I could do more harm than good by moving my neck.” Unfortunately, this fear of movement often makes matters worse, especially for people with whiplash from a car accident.

A new study examined the effects of fear of movement on neck disability and range of motion in 98 patients with whiplash. While the patients’ injuries ranged in severity, all the patients had whiplash for under a month and all were injured in an auto collision. Researchers measured patients’ levels of fear using two different scales. They also examined neck range of motion and degree of neck disability. Patients were evaluated after one, three, and six months post-injury.

Often, patients who more afraid to move their neck had more severe neck disability and reduced range of motion. Increased fear also prolonged the symptoms of whiplash. In contrast, patients with reduced fear were more likely recover within 6 months.

Feeling more comfortable with moving an injured body part does more than just decrease anxiety. It also ensures that tissues don’t become more tense, restricted or damaged.   Chiropractors can help you learn to move your injured neck safely to avoid re-injury.Chiropratic works by restoring the natural movement of the ligaments and joints in your neck to allow your body heal more efficiently.

Pedler, Ashley and Michele Sterling. “Assessing Fear-Avoidance Beliefs in Patients With Whiplash-associated Disorders: A comparison of 2 measures.” Clinical Journal of Pain 27.6 (2011): 502-7.

Car Crashes Increase Your Risk of Chronic Pain

Many people walk away from auto collisions with only minor aches and pain that can resolve itself in a matter of weeks. Others are faced with life-changing conditions like chronic whiplash, brain injury or widespread chronic pain. The condition of widespread chronic pain, often a characteristic of fibromyalgia, is pain below and above the waist, and on both sides of the body that lasts longer than three months. While there are many cause of widespread chronic pain, new research suggests that traumatic events like auto collisions may significantly increase your risk of developing it.

A recent study from the UK asked 6, 209 people to fill out a questionnaire on their health and experience with pain. Four years later, 2, 069 of the original participants filled out another questionnaire updating their symptoms. 1 in 10 of the participants had developed widespread chronic pain since the original survey. 76% of those participants had experienced a traumatic incident like a car crash, surgery or broken bone. Whether someone had been in an auto accident actually predicted whether they had developed widespread chronic pain in many cases.

If you suffer from chronic pain or fibromyalgia after an auto collision, you don’t have to continue living a life of in the shadow of your accident. Chiropractors have been effectively treating fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions for years. Contact a chiropractor about receiving safe, effective treatment.

Jones GT, et al. “Road traffic accidents, but not other physically traumatic events, predict the onset of chronic widespread pain: Results from the EpiFunD Study” Arthritis Care and Research 2011.

Patient Education Improves Chronic Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when the neck is forced past its normal range of motion. A common example of this is being rear-ended in an automobile accident. Whiplash can also occur after a severe bump to the head in which the neck was jarred or thrown forward or backward.

Whiplash should always be evaluated and treated to prevent further problems such as accelerated degeneration due to inflammation and alignment issues. As well, chronic whiplash can develop in some individuals. If this happens, you may be looking forward to years of intense pain sensitivity, poor coping mechanisms with illness, negative attitude and of course, movement dysfunctions. All of this could lead to disability.

In a recent case study, people suffering from chronic whiplash were educated on the mechanisms behind pain response to determine whether this type of knowledge could change symptoms, daily functioning, pain beliefs and behavior. Six patients with chronic whiplash associated disorders underwent evaluation; one group out of three underwent education on neurophysiology.

There was a significant difference in kinesiophobia (fear of movement or re-injury), passive coping strategy of resting, self-rated disability and photophobia (excessive sensitivity to light) following education intervention. There was also an increase in pain pressure thresholds and improvement in pain-free movement capabilities.

The sooner you see a chiropractor following a whiplash injury, the better your chances are for a full recovery. Chiropractors can also treat chronic whiplash.

Oosterwijck J, Nijs J, Meeus M, Truijen S, Craps J, Van den Keybus N, Paul L. Pain neurophysiology education improves cognitions, pain thresholds, and movement performance in people with chronic whiplash: A pilot study. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. 2011; 48 (1): 43-58.

Whiplash Patients Benefit from Chiropractic Care

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you know how painful they can be. Research shows that as many as 20% of people in a collision suffer from some kind of chronic pain.

You need to know that there’s hope!

A study conducted in 1996 looked at 28 patients who had whiplash and who still had pain 15 months after the crash. The patients were referred to chiropractors for care. (1)

The authors found that 26 (93%) of these patients reported improvement with chiropractic. In fact, of the 26 patients who experienced improvement, 17 stopped treatment altogether because they were feeling so much better!

If you’re suffering from whiplash pain, chiropractic might be able to help you, too. To find a chiropractor in your community, click here.

  1. Woodward MN, Cook JCH, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Chiropractic treatment of chronic ‘whiplash’ injuries. Injury: International Journal of the Care of the Injured 1996;27(9):643-645.