surfer's leg popping out of the water while the rest of their body and surfboard get tumbled by the surf

How Does Chiropractic Help with Whiplash?

Whiplash isn’t just caused by car crashes.

Whiplash comes from any motion causing your head to forcefully and quickly move backward and then forward. This motion often injures bones, discs, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and other tissues of the neck and spine.


We've seen a lot of non-car crash causes of whiplash in our clinic.

While some of our patients do get whiplash from car crashes, many also come to our Aptos office for whiplash from other causes:


Surfing-related whiplash from paddling and wipeouts. 

Paddling posture puts a lot of pressure on your neck muscles, and also compresses your nerves. While neck pain is usually related to paddling, surfers can also feel neck pain after a wipeout.


Slow mountain biking falls and highspeed crashes can cause whiplash.

Traumas from crashing at speed, or even falling over when you're trying to clip in to your peddles, can cause whiplash.


Road cycling crashes cause whiplash, too.

One of our employees suffered whiplash after swerving to miss an obstacle while riding downhill at speed. She slid out, bounced on the pavement a few times, and thought she was fine—until she couldn't turn her neck without pain the next day.


Teaching during COVID caused whiplash? Yep. 

In 2020, we had a patient teaching a cohort of students online and in class. She gave herself whiplash while looking from the screen to her classroom and back over and over. 


Symptoms of whiplash typically start within 24 hours of your injury.

It's pretty normal to "feel fine" after an event that causes whiplash. Then you wake up the next moring and don't feel so great. Doctors describe this as "delayed onset." Physical trauma can be masked by adrenaline for several hours or days. Once you detach and relax, you're able to detect the pain and dysfunction. 


Some signs you may have whiplash are:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening neck pain
  • Smaller range of motion in your neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of your skull
  • Tenderness or pain in your shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in your arms
  • Fatigue/Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression


Whiplash can be further complicated when:

  • You’ve had whiplash before
  • You are of an older age
  • You have existing low back or neck pain


How long does it take to recover from whiplash?

Patients with injuries like whiplash typically see us a few times a week over the course of a few weeks until they feel 70% better.


The good news is that chiropractic can help with whiplash.

Our Aptos chiropractors will choose the treatment that best addresses any spinal movement or nerve-related causes of your whiplash.


When you come to see us for whiplash, your treatment plan could include:

Instrument-assisted manipulation: This technique is gentle. We use an instrument called the activator. We apply force without thrusting into the spine. This is helpful for older patients who have a degenerative joint syndrome. It is also for anyone with a preference for a gentle, non-thrust approach.


Specific spinal manipulation: We find the restricted spinal joints that may show abnormal motion (called subluxations). This technique helps restore motion to the joint with a gentle thrusting technique. Stretching soft tissue and stimulating the nervous system helps restore normal motion.


Therapeutic exercises: To help restore normal motion in your spine and reduce whiplash symptoms, we may prescribe exercises specific to your unique condition.


Soft tissue treatment: We also use manual therapy to treat injured soft tissues (e.g. ligaments and muscles):

  • We may use myofascial blading. This instrument-assisted technique treats injured soft tissues. We will perform gentle repeated strokes using the Graston or RockBlade instruments over the injured area
  • Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Trigger point therapy


Think you may have whiplash?

Get relief from whiplash pain with individualized treatment plans here in Aptos. Schedule an online appointment today. We'll get you back into life quickly and safely.


Curious about how neck pain and dysfunction lead to more serious conditions? 

Check out our blog post on neck dysfunction and its effects on your musculoskeletal health.





Contact Information

 9053 Soquel Dr A
Aptos, CA 95003


(831) 661-5577
 (831) 851-3502

Opening Hours

Monday Closed

Tuesday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Wednesday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Thursday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Friday 09:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed

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