Healing after a whiplash injury

Every day, on average, 85 Minnesotans are injured in car accidentsAnd the most common injury that results from car accidents is whiplash. 

 If you or anyone you know is suffering from a recent or long-ago whiplash injury, I encourage you to not give up. Healing is possible, through a combination of acupuncture, bodywork, and herbs.

 It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible and to be consistent, as the greatest degree of improvement happens in the first six months after injury–not to mention, this is when motor vehicle accident insurance funds are available.

 Let’s look at the nature of a whiplash injury, and what I can do to help you heal.

Nature of the injury

During a whiplash injury, also known as an acceleration-deceleration injury, the soft tissues of the neck become inflamed and bruised. There may also be structural damage such as muscle tears, ruptured ligaments, disc herniations, fractures and dislocations. 

 Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, pain between the shoulder blades, low back pain, headache, numbness and tingling in the arms and hands, and vertigo. Often the symptoms don’t appear until 48 to 72 hours after the accident. Many people will recover within a few weeks, but others may be left with recurring symptoms.

 In Chinese medicine we also recognize the deeper physiological and emotional effects of physical trauma. All trauma causes an emotional shock to the heart, which has an impact on heart function, thereby decreasing circulation. Decreased circulation can have detrimental long-term effects on the body. It is therefore also important to resolve the emotional shock.

 An informative Canadian study showed that acupuncture stimulated emotional releases in whiplash patients, which promoted further and more complete recovery.

Treatment through acupuncture, bodywork, herbs

In my experience, each whiplash injury is unique. There are certainly common symptoms, but the treatment approach varies from person to person, depending on specific symptoms and how recent or old the injury is. Recent injuries respond more quickly to treatment, but regardless of when treatment begins, it must be consistent for a period of time. Chronic cases may take more time, but healing is definitely possible.

 In all cases, I prefer to use a combination of acupuncture and bodywork to directly address the injured tissues. And, I like to use herbs to calm the spasm and pain and address the circulation, in order to protect the heart function.

 Acupuncture manages and remedies pain of all types, releases muscle tension, and balances the nervous system. Bodywork soothes and improves circulation in inflamed tissues and breaks up adhesions in fibrotic tissues. Positional release therapy and trigger point therapy in particular can be useful to release and reset hypertonic muscles. Myofascial release addresses connective tissue restrictions. And craniosacral therapy is useful in all cases, but most specifically in cases of tension and migraine headaches.

 These are the treatment modalities that I use to treat whiplash injuries, but I always support an integrative approach, and often refer to other practitioners, including neurologists and orthopedists for diagnostics and imaging, and chiropractors and physical therapists for further treatment and rehab.

 For your convenience, Red Clover Clinic accepts personal injury insurance for those who have suffered a motor vehicle accident.

 Whiplash Testimonial

Anita’s exceptional grasp of anatomy and muscle movement, combined with years of clinical experience, enabled true healing work to emerge. After my car accident, I was in significant discomfort. Her unique approach of healing, which integrates bodywork, acupuncture and herbs, carried me through the most painful moments of my recovery and eventually guided me to a functional and vibrant place. I am so grateful to have had her as my primary care practitioner throughout this experience. She is the most thorough, well-trained and practical healer I have worked with. – J.C.