Chiropractic Treatment of Chronic “Whiplash” injuries

Forty-three per cent of patients will suffer long-term symptoms following ‘whiplash’ Injury. A retrospective study has undertaken to determine the effects of chiropractic in a group of 28 patients who had been referred with chronic ‘whiplash’. Twenty-six (93 per cent) patients improved following chiropractic treatment.

The ‘whiplash’ syndrome is a collection of symptoms produced as a result of soft tissue injury of the cervical spine. The accumulated literature suggests that 43 per cent of patients will suffer long-term symptoms following a ‘whiplash’ injury. If patients are still symptomatic after 3 months then there is almost a 90 per cent chance that they will remain so.
Over the 2 year period from May 1993 to April 1995 the severity of the patients’ symptoms before and after treatment was assessed blind by a chiropractor and an orthopaedic surgeon.
Patients were referred for chiropractic treatment at an average of 15.5 months (range. 3 – 44) after their initial injury. At presentation to the chiropractor the most common symptoms were neck pain (82 per cent) and stiffness (36 per cent). Other symptoms included headache, shoulder, arm and back pain.

The patients were divided into 4 categories for the information to be used before and after the treatment; Group A = No Symptoms; Group B = Mild Nuisance Pain, requiring no pain-killers; Group C = Intrusive Pain handicapping their work and leisure activities and Group D = Had Disabling Pain, lost their jobs and relied continuously on analgesics

Following treatment, 26 ( 93 per cent) of the patients had improved, 16 by one symptom group and 10 by two symptom groups

The ‘whiplash’ syndrome is a cause of long-term symptoms for which conventional medicine has failed to discover an effective treatment. Recently chiropractic treatment has been shown to be advantageous compared with conventional medicine in the treatment of low back pain. The results of this retrospective study would suggest that benefits can also occur in over 93 per cent of patients undergoing chiropractic treatment for chronic ‘whiplash’ injury.

Injury, vol. 27, No. 9, 643-645, 1996. Jenny Langworthy, Research Officer, Anglo-EuropeanCollege of Chiropractic. Great Britain.

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