If you have ever suffered from whiplash, you know just how painful this injury is. For most people, however, they get prompt treatment and within a few months, whiplash is history.
So why do some people suffer from whiplash pain for months, even years? By the way, it’s not just whiplash pain that sometimes goes on for years, but low back pain, neck pain, and other types of pain just never seems to go away for some people.
Scientists and researchers don’t really have an answer to this question. Even after an injury has technically healed, some people go on to experience pain for decades. Of course, some will question this and complain that this person is lazy or milking the system or just plain faking it, however, they don’t have any proof that this is true either.
In my many years of experience as a chiropractor, I have found that when people fail to give their injuries, whether you are talking about a lower back issue, a shoulder injury, or whiplash after an accident, proper attention and treatment within days of the injury, they will lead to long term pain.
There are plenty of interesting statistics regarding back pain and how chiropractic adjustments can help, but not nearly as many studies regarding long term whiplash pain. One study, however, found a good predictor of long term pain; victims who used distraction, hoping, and reinterpreting what happened was a good indicator that these patients would experience pain for years afterwards.
What can we do for those who suffer from long term whiplash pain or other types of chronic pain that has no measurable physical problem?
While the following might not apply to every person with chronic pain, there are 3 steps that those with ongoing pain issues, especially whiplash victims, can take that will allow their bodies to heal naturally.
Step #1-Address the Trauma
I’m not necessarily referring to the physical trauma, although that will need to be addressed also, in this case, I am speaking about the emotional and mental trauma that a person is enduring. Some victims of car accidents or other types of injuries were already suffering from emotional trauma. The accident that caused their low back pain or whiplash only added to their emotional and mental suffering.
Trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) shapes who we are and how we see the world. If we see the world as a bad and dangerous place where pain is the only consistent thing you can count on, is it any wonder that, after an accident, physical pain continues for years?
This is not to suggest that whiplash pain is “all in someone’s head.” This pain is very real, but the body cannot possibly heal what it sees as an ongoing health issue.
Society needs to stop stigmatizing mental health issues and start addressing them for what they are. Mental health is no different than vision, dental, or physical health. No one bats an eye when you go to the dentist when your tooth hurts, so why do people roll their eyes or look away when someone says they need to see a therapist because something “hurts” inside their head?
There are numerous ways to begin to heal trauma, including:
- Practicing mindfulness
- Relaxation techniques
- Support groups
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Yoga or other types of exercise
When trauma issues are addressed, pain levels decrease. While this study doesn’t address whiplash exactly, it does show that people with chronic pain and trauma have less pain after addressing their issues in therapy.
Step#2-Keep It Positive
Study after study finds that people who believe that they will heal quickly often do. Unfortunately, a great many people are very skeptical of the “mind over matter” issue, seeing it as a “new age thing” or even just “a bunch of baloney.”
Of course, this isn’t to say that the mind can heal the body when it has severe injuries, such as cancer, studies have shown that this is ineffective. However, for those who have injuries such as whiplash or back pain, while you are receiving treatment, a positive attitude will make a difference in how quickly your body can heal.
Believing that the treatment you are receiving will be effective, that you are not powerless when it comes to your injuries, and feeling like you and your health care provider are a team all lead to faster, more successful healing.
Step #3-Chiropractic Care and Physical Rehabilitation
Whether you have recently been in an accident or if your pain is a long-standing issue, chiropractic care and physical rehabilitation can help you. I am always surprised that people are quick to get their vehicles repaired but they don’t seem to have the same urgency when it comes to their bodies.
Depending on where your pain is and what the root cause might be, chiropractic care has multiple means of helping your body heal itself naturally. In addition to the usual adjustments, comprehensive chiropractic care can include:
- Chiropractic massage
- Cold laser therapy
- Heat therapy
- TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory supplements
Don’t let complications or chronic pain prevent you from getting the help you body needs to heal. It can be difficult to keep a positive attitude and seek out new treatment methods when you’ve been in pain for a long time, but everyone deserves to live a pain free life. May peace and pain free living become a part of your life in the very near future.