Chiropractic Care Helps Post Traumatic Stress & Whiplash Injuries

Feb 2018 | Auto Injury, Chiropractic, Neck Pain

Post traumatic stress can be vastly common with injuries related to pain or whiplash from automobile accidents. While bilateral, consistent care is suggested between the whiplash pain and the post traumatic stress many patients may not exactly see the relation or differences of symptoms they experience based on one ailment versus the other. Whiplash is an injury in the neck and spine that can cause range and movement restrictions due to the whip-like motion of the spinal column.


In a recent study submitted to the 10th Congress of European Pain Federation, 17% of patients experienced depression and stress over a period of time due to the whiplash and 9.5% saw high symptoms immediately with decreased amounts of stress during a 6 month period. Pain may persist in the neck area but other areas of the spine may be affected as well. During a chiropractic evaluation, a chiropractor in Dallas will usually request an MRI to show if there has been any intervertebral disc injury. They will also check for restricted motion of the joints, any ligament injuries as well as visible muscle spasms. In most traffic accident traumas only 50% of people who experience whiplash will recover. Due to this alarming amount, many patients experience either whiplash-associated disorder at 3 months or less and sometimes post traumatic stress disorder and whiplash associated disorder for 5 years or longer.


About 1% of the U.S. population is injured in automobile accidents, which means about 3 million people each year can be effected and can experience psychological symptoms. In recent studies, auto accident related traumas are the largest contributing factor of traumatic stress cases. PTSD, WAD, anxiety, depression, and other trauma related psychological symptoms effect almost 55 million adults and with increasing numbers, there have been roughly 9% of the population that have reported that they have developed PTSD from being involved in a motor accident. Due to the amount of physical injury, the contemplation and presentation of fatality of one’s self or that of a loved one, the chances of developing traumatic stress related diseases can occur. The spine, neck, and and nervous system are the most effected parts of the human anatomy during a car accident. These organs are the messaging system of the body that can also cause relayed information to be misread once these messages have reached the brain. Due to the way the body communicates, anytime external affliction is caused your brain sends a wave of stress and tension. These signals can show more than physical symptoms but may start as tension headaches, stiff neck, back pain, and irritable bowel. Once these stress and tension waves this can also present themselves as psychological stress and tension causing other forms of cognitive ailments. Given the prevalence of car related stress trauma, the diagnosis of PTSD and WAD can be identified in a two-step approach. The first step would be to take an assessment giving a score. Secondly, if a specific score or anything above that score is reported a more extensive examination is given. However, with motor vehicle accidents those whom suffer from PTSD or WAD or any other related emotional distress symptoms can be easily identified. In the right atmosphere, preferably a physicians office, a PTSD screening can be self-administered. There is a PTSD checklist and a patient is able to review the symptoms list and rate each item on a scale of 1 to 5.


Once a diagnostic treatment plan is discussed between you and the Dallas chiropractor you’ve chosen, there is a multitude amounts of therapy techniques that a chiropractor may use that are both noninvasive and homeopathic for both stress as well as the physical injury. Manual manipulation and stretching as well as therapeutic massages are used to relieve both the physical and mental stress a patient might be experiencing. The chiropractor may also suggest at-home self-therapy such as heat or ice, creams, sprays, spinal support or stretching. During the first several days of acute whiplash therapy, it is suggested to use ice to minimize the swelling or inflammation of the muscles as well as limited movement to ensure that proper healing takes place to lessen the chances of PTSD. Once pain has started to decrease and swelling has dissipated heat can be used to bring relief to the muscles and joints surrounding the spine and spinal maintenance will continue. A condition of motor related stress trauma that differentiates from other forms of PTSD is the chance of being injured again or developing chronic pain after the accident. Whereas, about half the people who have been in a car related accident do not consider psychological treatment for up to a year can experience post trauma stress. Therefore, stress trauma symptoms can be identified and most if not all symptoms can be treated and maintained by a chiropractor. There are a number of treatment options that have been proven effective for both physical and emotional ailments of post traumatic stress therapy. Treatments include behavior therapy, cognitive therapy and medications. However, some do find the most beneficial and natural way to deal with both the physical and emotional stress is chiropractic care. The chiropractic treatment options will depend on the severity and length of time of the sustained whiplash injury. The chiropractor will go over a list of both physical and psychological symptoms during your first visit. Once a prognosis is in place the physician will guide the patient through what a typical visit would be like and how regularly a patient should seek manual manipulation maintenance. During the clinical physician’s suggested time frame for aid, the most common version of treatment would be manual therapy or manipulation of the spine. Common manual therapy techniques used are:
  • flexion-distraction technique: A slow pumping technique that is used to be gentle and non-thrusting.
  • instrument-assisted manipulation: A gentle form of manual therapy that uses a handheld tool.
  • specific spinal manipulation: Manipulation using a gentle back and forth motion while the chiropractor identifies joints that show abnormal motion or restricted movement. This type of manipulation will stretch soft tissue around the joints.
Other forms of therapy used during a visit with the chiropractor are:
  • ultrasound
  • trigger point therapy
  • therapeutic massage
  • instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy
  • manual joint stretching and resistance training
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation


While about 25% of whiplash patients see a predominant amount of symptoms of PTSD, they are seeing little to no treatment for trauma or stress due to lack of knowledge on the associated issue. At Accident Centers of Texas a trained and compassionate chiropractor will examine the entire spine, performance of the body, ask diligent questions to each patient, as well as reexamine after each visit for therapy to review improvement and to ensure each patient receives the best outcome. They will examine each patient individually to give the best form of therapy, since not all traumas occur the same and cannot be treated identically. Within 6 months time most patients will see improvement of at least 30% to 90% in function and daily activity. Most acute whiplash injuries as well as psychological symptoms can decrease within several months with manual manipulation and other forms of therapeutic therapy. So if you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are experiencing symptoms from an auto injury, contact Accident Centers of Texas today! We have 8 convenient locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Frisco, Garland, and Irving, and we’re ready to help you take your life back!

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