Whiplash typically occurs when the head is suddenly banged or whipped due to a sudden jolt, usually involving a motor vehicle collision. However, it can also occur from a slip and fall injury. So the question on the table is, which of the health care services is the best option for the patient with a whiplash injury?

This question was investigated in a published study entitled "A Symptomatic Classification of Whiplash Injury and Implications for Treatment" (Journal of Orthopedic Medicine 1999;21(1):22-25). The authors state that the conventional (medical) treatment used in the treatment of whiplash "is disappointing". The authors refer to a study that showed that chiropractic treatment benefited 26 of 28 patients with chronic whiplash syndrome. The goal of their study was to determine what type of chronic whiplash patient would benefit most from chiropractic treatment. Patients were separated into one of 3 groups:

  • Group 1: Patients with "neck pain radiating in a 'coat rack' distribution, associated with restricted range of motion of the neck but no neurological deficit";
  • Group 2: Patients with "neurological symptoms or signs, or both, associated with neck pain and restricted range of motion of the neck";
  • Group 3: Patients who described "severe neck pain, but all had full range of motion and no neurological symptoms or signs distributed to specific myotomes or dermatomes." These patients also "described an unusual complex of symptoms," including "fainting, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain, along with a nondermatomal distribution of pain."
Patients underwent a mean of 19.3 adjustments over the course of 4.1 months (mean). The patients were then surveyed and their improvement reported:

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

24%

asymptomatic

38%

asymptomatic

0%

asymptomatic

24%

Symptom improvement by two degrees

43%

Symptom improvement by two degrees

9%

Symptom improvement by 2 degrees

24%

Symptom improvement by one degree

13%

Symptom improvement by one degree

18%

Symptom improvement by one degree

28%

No improvements

6%

No improvements

64%

No improvements









9%

Got worse



These findings show that the best results of chiropractic treatment occur in patients with mechanical neck pain (group 1) and/or those with neurological losses (group 2). The exaggerated group (group 3) was the most challenging and the only group where a small percentage worsened. The good news is that the number of cases that responded well to chiropractic treatment (groups 1 and 2) far outnumbers those that did not (group 3). Therefore, most whiplash injury patients should consider chiropractic as their first choice of medical care.