Whiplash: when, why and what’s next.

You may have just been in a major auto accident and now have pain and symptoms diagnosed as whiplash. Whiplash is most commonly caused by rear end collisions which account for 15% of auto accidents in America. Recent studies are showing that whiplash can happen in even the smallest of fender benders at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour.1-4

What it is:

Whiplash is the result of the head being forced backwards suddenly and then all the way forward as a reflex as the head comes to a stop. This motion is like that of cracking a whip, hence the name. When the head goes forward it causes damage to the muscles, ligaments, and vertebral discs in the neck.

  • This can cause pain and disrupt the proper position of the bones in the neck.
  • 84% of people have reported pain after a rear end accident.
  • Seatbelts increase the chance of whiplash by 20%.
  • 25% of people have chronic whiplash symptoms for 5 years.
  • 86% continue to have conditions for 10.8 years.
  • 68% of people have damage and degeneration to the neck/cervical spine.

What to do:

The Journal of Orthopaedic Medicine has stated: “The Chiropractic Answer to Whiplash Chiropractic may offer the best opportunity for relief from the pain of whiplash”. In a study they conducted of 93 patients with varying symptoms, 83% improved under chiropractic care and 31% had complete resolution of symptoms.

In another study of 57 patients showed an average recovery time of 29 weeks under Chiropractic care. These patients all had whiplash and were only examined for the presence of misalignments/Vertebral Subluxation in the spine, and most importantly the upper neck. Not only was there relief of pain but also, improved range of motion, muscle strength, and alignment of the neck demonstrated by x-rays. The most important part of this study showed that patients who stayed under care for longer periods of time and received fewer chiropractic adjustments continuously improved to the point of maximum benefit.


1. Severy DM, Mathewson JH, Bechtol CO. Controlled automobile rear-end collisions: an investigation of related engineering and mechanical phenomenon. Can Services Med J 11:727-758, 1955.

2. McConnell WE, Howard RP, Guzman HM, et al. Analysis of human test subject kinematic responses to low-velocity rear-end impacts. SAE Tech Paper Series 930889, 21-31, 1993.

3. McConnell WE, Howard RP, Poppel JV, et al. Human head and neck Kinematic after low-velocity rear-end impacts: understanding "whiplash." 39th Stapp Car Crash Conference Proceedings 952724, 215-238, 1995.

4. Szabo TJ, Welcher JB, Anderson RD, et al. Human occupant kinematic response to low-speed rear-end impacts. SAE Tech Paper Series 940532, 23-35m 1994.

5. Deans GT,Magalliard JN,Malcolm K,Rutherford WH.Neck sprain-a major cause of disability following car accidents.Injury 1987;18:10-12.

6. Deans GT,Magalliard JN,Rutherford WH.Incidence and duration of neck pain among patients injured in car accidents. British Medial Jouranal 1986;292:94-95.

7. Watkinson A, Gargan MF, Bannister GC. Prognostic factors in soft tissue injuries of the cervical spine.Injury 1991;22(4):307-309.

8. Khan S, Cook J, Gargan M, Bannister G. Symptomatic classification of whiplash injury and the implications for treatment. J Of Orthopedic Medicine 1999;21(1):22-24.

9. McCoy HG, McCoy M. A multiple parameter assessment of whiplash injury patients undergoing subluxation based chiropractic care: a retrospective study. JVSR. 1997;1(3):51-61.


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NUCCA Chiropractic Care

What is NUCCA
The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA) is an organization of Doctors of Chiropractic dedicated to patient care, education and research.

Spinal health care using the NUCCA procedures focuses on detecting and correcting a small misalignment in the upper neck area. Gentle, non-invasive adjustments don’t require any turning, twisting or popping.

Your upper cervical spine (neck) area influences all areas of your body. Injury or chronic misalignments can cause headaches, migraines, neck pain, low back pain, weakness and more.

The NUCCA technique is currently offered by less than 1% of all the Doctors of Chiropractic.

Before the NUCCA procedure can be performed, I will sit down with you and discuss your history and symptoms. If I determine that NUCCA can help, a thorough examination and x-rays will be done. A complete report of your findings and treatment options will be discussed. 

First adjustment
Precision x-rays are taken of the spine before any treatment begins. The adjustment is performed with the patient lying on their side and the doctor applying a very light pressure behind the earlobe. A full demonstration can be seen on the video above.

The NUCCA procedure can be summed up with 5 major distinctions as compared to traditional Chiropractic:

  • Gentle adjustment to the neck with no turning, twisting or popping.
  • Precision x-rays to measure before and after corrections.
  • Total body posture and balance improvement
  • Greater stability to the spine
  • Hold adjustments longer with fewer visits

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