Over the last 20 years, hundreds of studies have been done on the problem of whiplash.  Most of these studies focus on the neck pain that shows up a few days to a couple of weeks after a car accident.

Understanding Whiplash

No one asks for a whiplash injury.  They are nearly always a surprise and rarely the fault of the victim.  Over 28% of all car accidents are rear-end collisions. [1]  That’s over 2 million per year!

Rear end collision car accident whiplash chiropractor portland oregon

Most whiplash cases are minor and can heal quickly with proper care.  Unfortunately, a small number of cases (20-30%) become chronic and can lead to long term discomfort.

Whiplash displays some classic symptoms.  Sometimes these occur immediately after the crash, and sometime they may take weeks or even months to appear.

Common Whiplash Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Arm pain

Understanding Your Spine

Your neck was not designed for the forces involved with a whiplash.  Your spine is made to withstand downward forces like gravity.  Whiplash introduces extreme flexion, extension, and shearing forces that our spine cannot hold up against.

whiplash injury to neck portland chiropractor chris cooper[2]

When the car first jolts forward, your lower body moves forward with the seat of the car while your head remains still.  This creates intense shearing forces in the lower cervical spine.  The natural curve of the spine is deformed and creates an “S” shape.  You can see this in the second figure in the image above.  This all happens in the first few milliseconds after impact.  Your head then whips back into hyperextension.  If you have a seat head rest, this could limit the amount of force backwards you experience.  Finally your head is thrown forward.

Watch this slow motion impact.  See the change in the shape of the neck during impact.  The actual impact happens in the blink of an eye.

slow motion whiplash injury chris cooper portland chiropractor[3]


After a car collision, you may be injured and need treatment.  You can take pain relievers to deal with the aches and pains, but you aren’t really treating the problem.  Your body has damaged muscles, bones, and possibly nerves.

Chiropractic can help relieve the pain you feel.  Dr. Cooper‘s goal is to help the damaged tissues heal from the injury.  This may take time depending on the diagnosis.  Treatments could include electric stimulation, ultrasound, adjustments (manipulation), joint mobilization, myofascial release, massage, cervical collar, and home exercises & stretches.

Portland OR Chiropractor at Cascade Chiropractic & Wellness provide customized chiropractic care to the Portland OR, Gresham OR, Clackamas OR, Beaverton OR and Vancouver WA communities.  Visit our main website at eastportlandchiropractor.com

Choose several options to schedule your appointment: call (503) 257-1324 or request with our online form.


  1. NHTSA.  http://www.nhtsa.gov/Research/
  2. Whiplash Injury Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. http://www.healthandlivingmag.com/Whiplash_Injury_causes_symptoms_and_treatment/
  3. My Ride Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt4POerhyrA