Can Chiropractic Care Help With Headaches?

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If you are plagued with countless amounts of headaches where the cause is inconceivable and expensive headache medicine only seems to subdue the problem, it may be time to see the chiropractor.

From a research standpoint, there are 2 classes of headaches. Those caused by an anatomic problem, like a tumor in the brain or a blood vessel in the brain that’s bursting. Those are the serious, go to the surgeon kind of thing.  The other headaches are functional headaches, which means that everything is there and everything is anatomically correct but there’s something functionally not working correctly causing these headaches.

The vast majority of people have functional headaches. Medicine can only cover up the pain, like getting a Novocain shot for a bad tooth. If every time you went to the dentist for a toothache he numbed it with a shot, then told you to go home, after a while wouldn’t you say quit covering up the pain and fix the problem!

When it’s a functional problem, we know that most are triggered by the muscles and the joints around where the head and the neck meet together, which is mostly what chiropractors work with and solve very easily.

Chiropractic and headaches connect through issues such as a decrease in blood flow to part of the head, and also problems with the nerves running into the back of the head being irritated. Chiropractic can affect the nerve flow, and muscle spasms around the base of the neck thereby relieving headaches and joint pain.  Chiropractors loosen up the muscles, get the joints to line up and move properly how they should. It’s like everything relaxes, so the muscle pain goes away, the squeezing of the nerves go away, the nerves quit being irritated and the blood vessels relax and the headaches go away! By restoring function to the appropriate structures, the problems associated with the dysfunction go away!

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care, we would be honored to render our services. Please call our office at 847-322-2807.

How To Beat Holiday Stress

Our bodies are designed to be healthy- to exist in a state of optimal function better known as homeostasis. During the holidays, heightened stress can wreak havoc on our nervous system, and therefore our optimal function, leaving us feeling tired and worn down. The good news is, you can stay happy and healthy and feeling great this holiday season by integrating a few simple holiday stress busters into your routine, and while you can’t eliminate every source of stress in your life, a few smart decisions can help keep that added stress at bay and reduce your chance of getting sick.

Why it matters:

Each year, millions of people get sick before, during, or after the holidays and the most common culprit for all this illness is STRESS. When your body is stressed, it doesn’t recover well, and you are more likely to become sick. Not only could you experience more aches and pains, but you may also experience mental fatigue. Luckily, you’re in the right place. New research tells us that just like eating well and getting enough sleep, Chiropractic adjustments can go a long way towards positively influencing your stress levels by reducing your muscle tension so that you can feel better both during the holiday season and into the New Year. Many people carry their stress in their neck and shoulders. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to decrease muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Research has shown people experience less stress after receiving chiropractic care.

Next Steps:

By getting enough rest, exercise and chiropractic care, you can bust your stress levels and reduce your chance of getting sick this holiday season. You’ll feel better, more energized and experience a happier and healthier holiday, helping you do more of what you love with the people you love. That’s what it’s all about, and we’re here to help! Just ask- you’ll be glad you did! Happy holidays from our family to yours!

The Opioid Epidemic

The Opioid Epidemic Opioid drugs kill 115 people per day.

Chiropractic patients shown to reduce opioid use by 55%

One in every three Americans consume opioid drugs and 1.9 Million of those opiod users now find themselves addicted to dangerous pain-relieving medications. Approximately 115 people die every single day from opioid drugs. The medical community began releasing opioids into mainstream healthcare with good intentions but now the billion-dollar pharmaceutical venture potentially causes more harm than help. Medicare recipients spent over four billion dollars on opioid drugs in 2016, equivalent to nearly $3000 per Medicare recipient. The result of this path of healthcare now produces addictions and death on a massive scale.

The Journal of Perinatology produced a report in 2015 stating that a baby is born addicted to opioid drugs every 25 minutes. Babies born addicted to opioids come mothers who used the drugs during pregnancy. The same receptors in which create a chemical dependency in the blood transfer to the fetus. The drug addicted baby comes into the world facing $50,000 rehabilitation rather than enjoying the simplicity of being held and nursed at the onset of a life full of health and potential.

The trickle-down effect of opioid dependency begins with adults and the choices made available in the healthcare community. The answer does not involve managing opioid use as much as eradicating the use powerful and dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. Approximately 63% of the opioid users begin ingesting these potent chemicals as a means of coping with physical pain. The true pursuit of better health care demands consummate research into the implementation of drugless solutions before any narcotics change hands.

Research conducted in 2018 focused on the benefits of chiropractic care amidst the opioid epidemic. The study focused on administering chiropractic care to individuals who used or had access to opioids for the treatment of pain. Regular chiropractic care served as a primary health solution in place of the dead-end cycle of dangerous drugs. Patients who engaged with regular chiropractic care began filling prescriptions at a rate of 55% lower than those who did not receive care. Safe and effective chiropractic adjustments provided enough pain relief that patients began using lower doses of opioids and consumed them less frequently. Research continues to reinforce the evidence that long term health directly relates to the condition of the spine and body. A healthy spine minimizes and reduces physical pain while providing a long-term drug free solution that no opioid will ever provide.

Chiropractic care also costs significantly less than the medical cycle of treatment. A patient succumbing to the cycle of pharmaceutical drugs, surgeries, and doctor visits faces medical bills far more substantial than someone recovering their health and freedom from opioids through chiropractic care. America deserves an alternative to the bindings of a health care system that suggests the use of addictive drugs as a mean to long term health and freedom from pain. Chiropractic plays a distinct and unique role in helping men, women, children and babies experience the recuperative capabilities of their own bodies by ensuring the most vital parts of the body communicate and heal naturally. Better healthcare on a national level begins with educating all people about the research-based options that exist outside of the medical model of drugs and surgery. Better healthcare in the local community and home begin with taking the family to your local chiropractor.

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care, we would be honored to render our services.

The Major Benefits of Chiropractic Care

The Major Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Have you ever woken up from a long night’s sleep with an ache in your back, shoulders or neck? You’re not alone. In fact, studies show that 80% of American adults experience back pain, and the numbers are rising.

The causes of back pain vary widely. They range from serious conditions like cancer or infection to lifestyle issues like poor posture or stress. If your back pain is caused by these lifestyle factors, you might experience chronic pain that is difficult to relieve.

For patients experiencing chronic pain, there are many benefits of chiropractic care. Visiting a chiropractor can help you get relief from symptoms. It can also potentially help you develop strategies to avoid future pain or injury.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the greatest benefits of chiropractic care.

Chiropractors Take a Natural Approach

To appreciate the benefits of chiropractic care, it’s important to understand what a chiropractor is. This is because they have a unique philosophy of care that differs from other medical professionals.

One of the defining features of a chiropractor is the belief in drugless therapy. Chiropractors strive to relieve patient symptoms by readjusting misaligned joints, rather than by prescribing medication. Many patients prefer chiropractic treatments to other options because of this natural focus.

Chiropractors focus on the spine because it is a key feature in the body’s nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for sending and receiving messages from other systems in the body. Chiropractors believe that a misalignment in the nervous system can have ramifications on other systems in the body.

Chiropractors Can Treat a Variety of Symptoms

Perhaps when you hear the word, “chiropractor,” you think of a medical professional who specializes in the back and spine. While this is true to a certain extent, chiropractic care can actually many conditions beyond back pain.

This is because one of the main methods of chiropractic treatment is a spinal adjustment. The spine is an important part of the nervous system, so a maladjusted spine can cause symptoms in other parts of the body.

For instance, one of the benefits of chiropractic care is the ability to treat sciatic nerve pain. This is a radiating pain in the legs caused by compressed spinal discs.

Chiropractic care can also help relieve headaches, particularly migraines. If you’ve ever had a bad migraine, you know that the pain can travel to the neck and shoulders. A chiropractic adjustment can help relieve the tension that causes these symptoms.

Some studies speculate that a chiropractic adjustment can even relieve patients’ gastrointestinal symptoms. This is because misaligned nerves in your spine can affect your digestive system’s ability to communicate with the brain.

Avoid Painkillers

One of the most common reasons patients go to a chiropractor is for chronic pain, typically in the shoulders or low back.

While chronic pain is a common condition, there are unfortunately few ways to treat it. Patients typically have the options of surgery, cortisol injections, or prescription painkillers.

Given these options, many patients choose the prescription painkillers. This is because surgery is invasive, and visiting a doctor for cortisol shots is inconvenient. But taking prescription pain medicine comes with its own risks.

Visiting a chiropractor is a much better strategy for treating chronic pain than prescription drugs. This is because the body can build up a resistance to the drugs over time, meaning that the patient has to take a higher dose to get the same amount of relief. Unfortunately, this is how many folks become addicted to painkillers.

This is also why visiting a chiropractor can be a good choice for pregnant women. Many women experience back pain during their pregnancy, but cannot take prescription drugs. A chiropractor can provide pain relief that is safe for you and your baby.

Address the Cause of Your Pain

Another one of the major benefits of chiropractic care is addressing the root causes of your pain. This is a more effective approach than simply treating symptoms. This way, rather than just taking medicine to dull the pain, you are identifying ways to stop the pain from occurring.

For instance, many patients experience chronic neck or back pain due to poor posture. A chiropractor can identify problems in your posture, and give you strategies for improving it. In some cases, chiropractors may be able to provide special pillows or cushions to improve posture while sitting.

Additionally, getting chiropractic adjustments can help improve your posture over time. This is because a chiropractic adjustment realigns your spine.

Get Exposed to Other Treatment Options

While there are many benefits of chiropractic care, a chiropractor cannot always relieve all of a patients symptoms. They can, however, connect the patient with other strategies for seeking relief.

For example, some folks find that physical therapy can provide significant relief for their pain. A chiropractor can show patients exercises and stretches that they can do at home to address their pain.

Chiropractors may also recommend other drug and surgery free treatment options. For instance, many chiropractors have TENS units, which deliver electricity to the muscles. This is especially helpful to patients whose pain is caused both by spinal misalignment and muscle soreness.

Get Relief from Your Pain

Simply put, one of the main benefits of chiropractic care is relief from chronic pain. Chronic pain can lead to a variety of other issues, including depression, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and loss of productivity. Freedom from pain will allow you to return to the activities that are important to you.

That said, not all people who visit chiropractors suffer from chronic pain. In some cases, they seek out a chiropractor as a preventative measure. After all, the only thing better than relief from chronic pain is never having pain in the first place.

Taking Advantage of Benefits of Chiropractic Care

If you have been experiencing chronic back, neck, or shoulder pain, it may be time to visit a chiropractor. This is a great way to get relief from your symptoms without depending on pain medicine.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a chiropractor, contact us. We will work with you to get the care that you need.

How Much Does a Chiropractor Cost?


Chiropractic care takes a natural approach to pain, but how much does a chiropractor cost? Click here to learn what you can expect to pay for quality care.

Did you know that 80% of Americans deal with back pain at some point in their life? The pain can be excruciating and frustrating. Many pursue a wide range of benefits and only get minimal relief.

Unfortunately, they may not realize that chiropractic care is a proven and safe method for dealing with back pain, as well as a wide range of other health issues. Some patients may avoid going the route of chiropractors because of misinformation.

Or, they might be scared off by the price. If you are wondering “How much does a chiropractor cost?” there is good news.

Depending on your insurance and your health issues, a chiropractor can be the best overall value. Here is why:

Avoid Missing Work

A major component of any health care treatment is the loss of both work and opportunity that occurs if you or a loved one is out of commission. Back pain can prohibit people from returning to work or operating effectively at their everyday tasks.

When thinking, “how much does a chiropractor cost,” it is important to factor in the loss of work if you go without the proper remedies and treatments for your health issues.

Unlike pain pills or ineffective surgeries, a chiropractor isn’t just trying to remedy your pain. Through spinal manipulation and other treatment methods, they will also aim to increase your mobility and function.

How much does a chiropractor cost isn’t the full question. It isn’t anywhere near as expensive as the loss of work and life pleasures that can occur when you pursue ineffective remedies.

Ease of Single Visits 

The cost of a single visit to a chiropractor varies by your location, their practice, your method of payment, and insurance coverage. Generally, a chiropractor will ask you for payment at time of visit, but this also varies depending on the practice.

You can expect a benefit in terms of pain relief, mobility, posture, and general well-being. You may pay anywhere between $30 and $100 for a single visit, depending on the variables listed above.

Your single-visit cost may also be affected by the type of treatments involved. A chiropractor may need to take x-rays, use electrical stimulation, ice or heat therapy, or a number of other methods.

Ask your chiropractor ahead of time which methods you may be using on your next visit and why.

Monthly and Frequent Promotions 

Another benefit for patients that many doctors offer is a monthly or frequent-visit price. Chiropractic therapy typically involves more than one visit — as is true with most health practices — so you may benefit from a promotional or package rate.

When asking how much does a chiropractor cost that you are thinking of seeing make sure to ask about insurance, procedures, and single visit costs. But also inquire about the possibility of a multi-visit membership or promotional price.

You will likely find that the overall benefits to your health and well-being far outweigh the costs of a chiropractor and their effective treatment strategies.

The Cost of Pills 

Did you know that research says that pills offer the same amount of relief as a visit to a chiropractor?

The National Institute of Health reports that a review of 26 clinical trials revealed that spinal manipulation — traditionally performed by a chiropractor — is just as effective as other alternatives for relieving lower back pain.

Doctors state that chiropractors can offer the same amount of pain relief as over the counter medicine like Ibuprofen. If you hesitate to visit a chiropractor for pain relief, make sure you count the cost of all those expensive pills.

Plus, with a chiropractor, you won’t risk the costly side effects of pain relievers like kidney failure and addiction issues.

How Much Does A Chiropractor Cost With Insurance? 

With the current state of healthcare in the United States, many patients have varying levels of insurance coverage. Your insurance company may well offer a number of visits with copay as part of your annual insurance coverage.

One reason insurance companies support chiropractic care is that it is an effective way to treat and relieve a wide range of health issues. Some patients don’t just reduce pain but increase mobility.

Your insurance company will fill you in on your coverage and covered practitioners. But if you aren’t covered, there are easy alternatives that are offered by most chiropractors.

Your local chiropractor will offer rates based on your level or insurance, covered visits, and copay. When scheduling your first appointment, you can give your full insurance information and get a price ahead of time.

Many new patients are surprised to discover the number of visits and low copay that are included with their insurance coverage. Don’t be scared off by your ideas of how much does a chiropractor cost.

Both insurance companies and chiropractic practices make it affordable and comfortable to get the chiropractic treatment you need.

The Problems With Back Surgery 

Another route some patients take is expensive lower back surgery. The surgery isn’t just costly; it can also backfire and lead to worse pain and dependence on pain killers in the years to come.

Nothing is worse than taking the leap to agree to a surgical treatment and ending up in worse shape than ever. If your annual deductible is high, it may pay off to give a good chiropractor a chance to remedy your issues first.

Chiropractors cost much less than back surgery, and you won’t risk having worse problems than before.

The Best Overall Value 

While many people who are new to the practice might wonder how much does a chiropractor cost, the bigger question is can you afford to go without one? With the high cost of pills and treatments that may not work, a chiropractor generally offers the best overall value for your health and wellness.

One word of caution though: The wrong chiropractor may not fit your price and goals. Each patient needs to find a practitioner who is trustworthy, skilled and has great experience treating similar patients.

Helping Hands can help. Our practice has special offers and qualified staff to address all of your massage therapy and chiropractic needs. Helping Hands was selected as the “Best Chiropractor in Northbrook” by the Northbrook Award Committee. If you are looking for a Chiropractor in the Northbrook, Highland Park area, we would love to show you what we can do for you!.

Contact us now to schedule an appointment.

7 Reasons Why Visiting a Local Chiropractor is Better Than Painkillers

Why a Local Chiropractor is Better Than Painkillers

If you’re suffering from back pain and muscle discomfort, painkillers aren’t your only option for relief. Here’s why you should visit your local chiropractor.

Severe back pain can be a difficult problem to manage.

If it goes too long without treatment, it can be absolutely debilitating. Before you know it, you can be sidelined all encompassing pain.

We’ve already told you about some ways that you can treat back pain with some simple exercises, but what can you do when the pain is just too much to bear?

You may find yourself wanting to reach out to a physician to get a prescription for some high power painkillers.

With the rise of the opioid epidemic in our country, it may be your best option to find a drug-free alternative to treating your back pain.

Come along as we take you through the 7 reasons why visiting a local chiropractor is better than taking painkillers

No Risk Of Dependency to Hard Drugs

This is possibly the biggest sell for seeing a local chiropractor rather without opting for the immediacy of prescription painkillers.

Because of the push of these drugs on patients in tremendous pain, the United States is suffering through a tremendous opioid epidemic that is making its presence known even in smaller communities around the country.

The N.C.H.S. (National Center For Health Statistics) reported that 59,779 people died of overdoses in the first half of 2016 alone and the New York Times believes that this number increased in the second half of the year.

These numbers are truly staggering and you owe it to yourself and your family to be wary of any prescription drugs that could force you to slip into the depths of addiction.

By visiting your local chiropractor, you will be taking a substance free and less scary approach to recovery.

No Surgery Involved 

One of the most appealing aspects of visiting your local chiropractor is that you will not have to go under the knife to cure your back pain.

If the treatment takes the right way, you will not have to schedule any sort of back surgery.

This will cut down the possibility of you needing to be confined to a bed during your rehabilitation with a prescription from a doctor for a drug you could become dependant on.

But how can your chiropractor achieve such a thing?

Recovery Through Helpful Neuromusculoskeletal Physical Therapy

Chiropractors help to mend your back pain through Neuromusculoskeletal Therapy.

This therapy includes working by hand to remodel and correct a patient’s spinal column and joints.

This process can align any out of place joints or vertebrae all while strengthening the muscle tissue around these bones.

US News found that this type therapy can be just as effective as any other kind of treatment.

They recently published that a study found in the “British Medical Journal in 2003 evaluated 183 patients with neck pain who were randomly assigned to receive treatment that involved spinal manipulations, physiotherapy (mainly exercise) and care from a general practitioner, which involved primarily counseling, education, and prescription drugs. The people in the study kept cost diaries for one year. The study found that manual therapy was more effective and less costly than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner.”

If you are willing to go through the steps, a strict regiment of this therapy will do wonders combating your pain and you will notice some changes in your physical appearance as well.

Improvement in Your Posture 

With your body healing around your fixed joints and vertebrae you will notice that your posture will appear to align more and more with the longer you visit your local chiropractor.

This is something that you will not get by simply taking a few pills a day.

By facing your pain head on, you will cut to the route of this issue and notice changes throughout your entire body.

It Can Help Cure Headaches Caused By Nerve Damage 

Severe headaches can be a big side effect caused by an unaligned or twisted spinal chord.

This is caused by blocked and damaged nerve sensors that normally send energy down your spine.

By having your local chiropractor adjust your spine these nerves will have the chance to heal and will be able to carry out their duties as they should.

Once your back has healed you will probably notice that you do not wince as much as you used to!

It Will Cost Less in the Long Run  

By visiting your local chiropractor instead of going to a regular practitioner will not only give you better results, but it will save you a lot of money.

WebMD found that by seeing a chiropractor you could cut down on the likely hood of having to schedule an expensive back surgery by 32%.

And think of all of the money you would likely have to spend on hospital visits and x-rays just to get to the point of operation.

As we’ve said it before, you will not have to pay for dangerous medications that could send you on the path to addiction.

And those drugs can become extremely expensive.

You Can Continue Recovery At Home 

The great thing about receiving therapy from your local chiropractor is that you will be learning valuable stretches from a trained professional.

These stretches will come in handy at home as you will now know what will work in case you have a pain flare up days away from your next visit.

Knowing these skills will help you take the reigns to your recovery and to side-step ever depending on painkillers.

And Voila! Now You Know the 7 Reasons Why Visiting a Local Chiropractor is Better Than Taking Painkillers 

By taking a drug-free route and choosing to visit your local chiropractor you will have a more hands-on approach to curing your back pain without the risk of dependency to prescription pills.

You already have one problem to deal with without having another one on top of it.

So call up your local chiropractor today to schedule an appointment.

Consider it the first step on your road to recovery!

If you have any more questions about why visiting a local chiropractor may be your best option, feel free to send us a message through our contact page.

We are here to help!

Chiropractic Care & Headaches

Chiropractic Care & Headaches

The cervical spine is often implicated in the onset and/or presence of headaches. This is due in part to the first three cervical nerve roots exiting out of the spine and enter the back of the head through a particularly thick group of muscles attached to the base of the skull along the nuchal ridge.

Anything that tightens up the upper cervical musculature can give rise to headache, and certainly stress has the unique characteristic of increasing neck muscle tension. Cervicogenic headache and tension-type headache are the two most commonly used terms associated with neck dysfunction.  Migraine headaches are a vascular type of headache, and these too can be greatly helped by spinal manipulation of the upper cervical region, though the mechanism of how this helps is less understood.

When patients see a chiropractor to treat their headaches, the paperwork they complete may include questionnaires regarding how their headaches impact both their wellbeing and their day-to-day activities. This data can be used to monitor a patient’s progress over time. Similarly, patients may be asked for data at each visit regarding the frequency, intensity, and duration of their headaches since their last visit in order to determine if a new approach to treatment should be considered.

Chiropractic offers multiple types of treatments with the goal of reducing neck and headache pain, restoring function to the vertebrae in the cervical spine—especially in the upper cervical region—and teaching the patient preventative methods of self-management such as exercises, ice and/or heat, and dietary modifications.

Because chiropractic includes an evaluation of the entire musculoskeletal system, a doctor of chiropractic may spot biomechanical faults lower in the body that may play a role in the headache process. A good example of this is a flat foot with ankle pronation, which creates a knocked-kneed effect and a drop in the pelvis on the same side. This can affect the curvature of the spine, causing stability issues up into the neck. In this case, prescriptive foot orthotics to correct the ankle pronation problem and/or a heel lift to correct a short leg can have dramatic benefits for headache sufferers, not to mention other spinal complaints such as low back pain.

We realize you have a choice in whom you consider for your health care provision and we sincerely appreciate your trust in choosing our service for those needs.  If you, a friend, or family member requires care for back pain, we would be honored to render our services.

Can Bad Backs Heal Themselves?


Can Bad Backs Heal Themselves?

Low back pain (LBP) from a herniated disk often leads to surgical intervention. However, there are patients with this painful malady who can successfully “ride it out” and repeat MRI imaging six to twelve months later often fails to show little, if any, evidence of the original herniated disk that was initially very obvious. How is this possible?

The proposed theory is that there must be some unique interplay between molecular signals that might explain why some herniated disks heal themselves while others do not. Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are investigating this and published a report on their progress in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

LBP affects 60-80% of Americans during their lifetime, and there are upwards of 300,000 surgeries for herniated disks annually in the United States alone. A disk can herniate when its outer fibers tear or give way, allowing the semi-fluid center to leak out. If the herniated disk material hits the nerve root exiting the spine, the classic sciatica, or pain down the leg, can result.

Dr. Dan Spengler states that about 50% of patients with disk herniation will improve within six weeks, and the actual herniated material may completely resorb over time. What troubles Dr. Spengler and other researchers is why this doesn’t occur with everyone.

Looking specifically at the molecules that are frequently present when disks herniate, researchers have identified a group of proteins called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Certain MMPs have the ability to act like “Pac-Man” and literally chew through other proteins making it highly suspect that MMPs may be at the forefront of why some disks resorb while others do not! Additionally, when a disk herniates, bleeding occurs and white blood cells—specifically macrophages, which are immune system cells in our blood that ingest foreign materials and bacteria—also flood into the area.

What most surprised the authors was the interplay between the macrophages and the MMPs. They found that when the blood/macrophages and one of two specific MMPs interacted in a very specific manner, disk resorption occurred and they were even able to replicate this process in a lab. They concluded the following, “These enzymes are more complicated and interesting than we originally thought. Rather than being big bulldozers, they’re a fine pair of scissors that cut certain things.”

The TAKE-HOME MESSAGE here is unless you are having progressive neurological loss (meaning muscle weakness or sensory pain that is progressing, and/or especially bowel or bladder weakness), there is NO RUSH to run and have surgery! Doctors of chiropractic can offer natural, non-invasive treatments to manage pain while you let your body manage the herniation!

Whiplash – Is it Muscle, Ligament, or Both?


Whiplash is caused by the rapid back and forth motion that occurs in the classic rear-end collision, in some sports, and during slip and falls. The initial symptoms associated with whiplash often include muscle tightness and pain. But where is the pain coming from?

First, the mechanism of injury that is involved in a rear-end collision is important to understand. In the first 50-100 milliseconds, the body below the neck is pushed forward in relation to the neck, resulting in straightening of the neck. Between 100-200 msec, the lower half of the neck extends while the upper half flexes, after which the head accelerates backwards, where it is hopefully stopped by the head rest. This is followed by a forward rebound where the head and neck accelerate forward, hopefully limited by the seat belt and/or air bag. This entire event is completed within 300msec, which is faster than what we can voluntarily brace or guard against, even if we see it coming!

Factors that contribute to injury that are more difficult to calculate include the angle and springiness of the seat back, the position of the headrest, the build of the person (tall slender females are at greater risk than a husky male), whether the head was turned at the point of impact, the slipperiness of the road, the size of the two vehicles, etc.

So what’s causing your pain? Is it muscles, ligaments, or something else? There are many symptoms associated with whiplash and hence the term ‘whiplash associated disorders’ or WAD that is applied to these cases. There are four categories of WAD: 1) few symptoms/no exam findings; 2) more symptoms/positive exam findings but no nerve pain; 3) nerve pain—numb/tingling and/or muscle weakness; and 4) fracture/dislocations.

The term “cervical sprain/strain” refers to ligament/muscle injury, respectively. Muscles move bones and joints and are more elastic while ligaments firmly hold two bones together at a joint. The muscles attach to bone by tendons, and a strain refers to a muscle and/or tendon injury. Both sprains (ligaments) and strains (muscle/tendon) are graded as one, two, and three or, mild, moderate, and severe, respectively, depending on how much tearing occurs. The rate of healing is dependent on the amount of tearing and how “nice” you are to it after injury. Pain can last a long time if you keep “picking at the cut” or in other words, not respecting the healing process.

What makes the neck so unique are the many layers of muscles that exist. Like an onion, there are layers upon layers of muscles that do different jobs, but unlike an onion, these muscles run in many different directions. The muscles on the outside tend to be long, large, and strong while the deep ones are short, small, and are important with fine motor control and coordination. The deep muscles are NOT voluntary (the larger/stronger outside muscles are), so to exercise them, we have inhibit the outside muscles to get the deep ones to work. The deep neck flexor muscles are always weak in those of us with neck pain (from any cause) and need to be isolated and strengthened in order to feel and function better.

Doctors of chiropractic are trained to teach you these important, specific exercises in addition to others as well as provide you with pain relief with treatment, education, and job/work modifications.

Why You Should Seek Treatment for Whiplash ASAP!


Even though whiplash or whiplash associated disorders (WAD) is very common, it remains poorly understood. Recent studies report that up to 60% of people may still have pain six months after their injury. Why is that?

Investigations have shown there are changes in the muscle and muscle function in the neck and shoulder regions in chronic WAD patients. Symptoms often include balance problems as well as increased sensitivity to a variety of stimuli including pressure, light vibration, and temperature.

Interestingly, this hypersensitivity not only occurs in the injured area, but also in areas away from the neck such as the front of the lower leg or the shin bone. This can only be explained by some type of neurobiological processing of pain within the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and brain.

It’s not surprising that when pain continues for lengthy time frames, people with these symptoms may also experience psychological distress. The confusing thing is that not every WAD injury case has this “central sensitization” and when it’s present—its intensity is highly variable.

Current research into WAD is focused on the following: 1) developing better treatments in the early or acute whiplash injury stage with the goal to PREVENT development of these chronic symptoms; 2) determining what factors can PREDICT slower recovery following a WAD injury; 3) investigation into how the stress response associated with motor vehicle crashes influence pain, other symptoms and recovery, and how to best address and MANAGE the stress response; 4) research into the effect a WAD injury has on daily life function; and 5) developing improved assessment methods for healthcare providers so that EARLY treatments can be more targeted and effective.

A Swedish study is currently looking at the importance of reducing the acceleration of the occupant during an automobile collision by redesigning the body of the vehicle and its safety systems. In rear-end crashes, the main issue is to design a seat and head restraint that absorbs energy in a controlled way and gives support to the whole spine. In frontal crashes, the air bag, seat belt pretensioner, and load limiter must work together in a coordinated way to reduce the acceleration between the vertebrae of the spine and occupant.

What is known is that a “wait and watch” approach may NOT be appropriate in a lot of cases. It appears there is a relatively short window of time, the first three months, when treatment seems to be most effective. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to identify and treat these types of injuries, so PLEASE, don’t delay your initial visit—time is truly of the essence.  Don’t waste it!

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