Whiplash Injury and Treatment in Anchorage, AK

Tel. (907) 310-8101

Book An Appointment

What Causes Whiplash?
How Do I Know I have Whiplash?
How Long Does Whiplash Last For?
What Treatments Are Most Effective for Whiplash?
How Counterstrain Relieves Whiplash Pain

What Causes Whiplash

Whiplash is caused by a sudden jerking motion of the head and neck that injures soft tissues in the neck. People often suffer a whiplash injury in car accidents, playing contact sports, from slips, and other types of traumas (like falls off of bikes, horses or skis). Whiplash gets its name from the quick back-and-forth motion of the head and neck that mimics a crack-of-a-whip motion. Commonly-diagnosed conditions resulting from whiplash include neck strains (injured ligaments) and sprains (injured muscles), but there are actually other types of soft tissues that can also be severely injured (more on this in a bit). Additionally, the more severe and high speed the accident or trauma, the more likely other types of spinal injuries will occur. 

Although many people with whiplash respond well to treatment and get better within a few weeks of the injury [1], there are those whose symptoms don’t respond to medication, exercise, or therapy. If your symptoms extend beyond 6 months, you are considered to have a condition called “whiplash syndrome.” In fact, people who suffer from neck pain that has lasted longer than 3 months have a condition called “chronic neck pain,” regardless of whatever the cause was. 

Why You Can’t Fully Heal or Aren’t Healing Faster

If you are still suffering from chronic whiplash symptoms like pain, tightness, dizziness, numbness, headaches, fatigue, neck and shoulder tenderness, you might wonder what the difference is between you and those people who were able to successfully resolve their symptoms. The difference can be:

  • the severity of injury; 
  • compounding a pre-existing problem with whiplash (often the pre-existing issue may not be obvious prior to whiplash); 
  • There is a condition in the body that requires a more direct intervention, for example a fractured vertebra might need a brace or surgery in order to help the body fully heal. However, after these interventions the body may still require further help recovering from both the whiplash and the surgery. 
  • You are being held back from fully healing because you have not had the right treatment.
  • You are still doing things that are aggravating your injury.

Often it is a combination of these that can prevent you from fully resolving a whiplash injury. 

If you have seen a doctor and are still suffering with chronic neck pain after getting whiplash, did you know that one of the likely reasons is that you have a chronic fascia injury and dysfunction

Fascia coats all of our anatomy from head to toe. It interconnects across all parts of the body (skin through to the center of our bones, including nerves, veins, arteries, muscles, discs, and more). Fascia is effectively a key part of your body’s ability to sense and protect itself. It responds with pain, spasm, and inflammation when a particular area is threatened or harmed. 

Fascia Helps the Healing Process – Unless It’s Dysfunctional!

Your fascia and muscles are your body’s “first responders”: Your fascia signals to you the injury by causing pain and triggering immediate spasming (tightening) of the surrounding fascia and muscles to guard the area from further harm. This natural tightening is a protective defense mechanism that helps the body heal and will normally dissipates quickly once the body heals. However, because of something called the pain-spasm-pain cycle and “stuck” inflammation [Click Here To Learn More], instead of helping you heal, your fascia can become dysfunctional and lock in inflammation, pain and spasm in your body long-term. This can prevent your whiplash condition from fully resolving, so that you may suffer from chronic pain and tightness.

People who have this type of fascia problem rarely get diagnosed, often because it can’t be imaged on an X-ray or MRI scan. Thus, it is difficult to know if fascia injury is what’s holding you back from fully healing. A very simple way to know if you might have a fascia injury is if you have had pain and tightness/stiffness that has lasted longer than 2 or 3 months. In fact, this is such a common problem that we would be so bold as to say that most people have some kind of fascia dysfunction (with the severity and extent of this determining whether people notice it).

When you understand that fascia injury and dysfunction can underly your chronic symptoms, it can then be confusing to know which fascia treatment is right for you. The good news is that your choice is made much easier if you filter the treatments by whether they can address all types of fascia, in all parts of the body

This capability turns out to be key for resolving chronic pain from whiplash, especially if it’s been resistant to other treatments. Fascial Counterstrain therapy is one of only a very small number of treatments that can identify, find and treat all the different types of fascia in the body (whether that is fascia of the bone, artery, vein, lymphatic vessel, nerve, disc, cartilage, dura, ligament, organs and muscle). 

Contact us if you want to find out how helping your fascia can help your chronic whiplash pain.

How Do I Know I Have Whiplash?

So you may have pain – you know that. But do you have whiplash? Whiplash is usually diagnosed after a whiplash event, where the neck and head have experienced a sudden back and forth jerking motion. Whiplash is then usually diagnosed through the presence of whiplash symptoms. These can include pain, tightness, dizziness, numbness, headaches, fatigue, and neck and shoulder tenderness. Other whiplash symptoms that are less common include sleep problems, blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in your ears), difficulty concentrating, brain fog (memory problems), irritability, and depression [1]. Sometimes radiating symptoms like pain, numbness, and pins and needles can occur down into your shoulders, arms, and hands. You might not feel symptoms right after the injury, but they may develop or get worse in the following days or even weeks [1].

Do You Have Chronic Whiplash Pain?

These symptoms should normally disappear within several weeks of the incident that caused the whiplash [2]. However, when your symptoms last more than 6 months, then you are considered as having “whiplash syndrome” which has the potential to last for years if not appropriately treated. If you suffered a more severe whiplash injury, or if you had a prior whiplash injury, other neck or back injuries, or if you are older, your risk of developing chronic whiplash pain is increased.

It should be said that if you haven’t seen a doctor yet for your symptoms, you might want to consider doing so – particularly if you are suffering with whiplash symptoms and you have been in a recent car accident, or suffered another recent traumatic injury. The reason for this is that it’s important to rule out broken bones or any other damage so that your symptoms don’t get worse. Depending on what a doctor observes, they might recommend doing some diagnostic imaging (X-rays, MRI scans). 

Why You Can’t See Your Injury

While imaging is ideal for diagnosing certain well-known conditions, imaging can’t be used to diagnose one of the most common causes of all whiplash pain. This is because X-ray, MRI, and CT scans don’t show any visible damage when the injury is at a scale that is below the resolution of these imaging techniques. In these cases, it is very often small-scale trauma to your body’s soft tissues that cause pain. And it can be key to address your soft tissues when recovering from whiplash, whether it occurred recently, or months to years ago.

What Stops Your Healing

There are a set of natural reflexive processes in the body that can lock in and create pain, inflammation, and tightness into your injured soft tissues. This is because of the role your fascia has in injury and the healing process. All your soft tissues have fascia wrapping around them. Within the fascia are millions of nerve endings. This means that fascia is actually your body’s main way of sensing pain. When the fascia of your soft tissues senses danger or are injured, it creates a fascial and muscular spasm which causes pain and inflammation. However, there are ways in which this natural protective reflex of the fascia can become faulty such that spasm, pain and inflammation become permanently locked into the injured fascia and surrounding muscles. These processes actually prevent the body from being able to complete the healing process. The chronic pain, inflammation, and tightness is best addressed by treating the injured fascia of the body. However, not all fascia treatments are equally effective. Since many different types of fascia can be injured (muscle fascia, nerve fascia, bone fascia, disc fascia, etc.), the fascia therapies that can help all of the types of fascia in the body are most successful. 

For example, after a traumatic incident causing whiplash, the joints of the neck can sometimes get locked into a permanent spasm as a result of a guarding mechanism that won’t let go. After the initial phase of injury, the common treatment approaches focus on muscles, with the aim to relax, suppress or override the compensating guarding muscles that are protecting the neck and all its soft tissues. However, very often the reason why these approaches don’t work is because they don’t always address all the underlying reasons why your muscles – and especially your fascia – are still continuing to guard the body in the first place. 

A more successful strategy to helping chronic issues caused by whiplash is one that focuses treatment on the whole spectrum of possible locations in the neck, head, and shoulders where fascial injury can occur. This would mean that to successfully help rid yourself of whiplash pain, you may need an approach that specifically treats fascia problems in specific veins, arteries, nerves, discs, bones, cartilage, dura, ligaments, lymph vessels, muscle, skin and more. 

Please note: it is not commonly understood that fascia problems in these different parts of the body can be the key to helping resolve chronic whiplash symptoms. It is also not widely-known that fascia can actually be treated and help get you out of pain. 

We hope you have new appreciation of what can cause whiplash pain so that you are now better-positioned to target the underlying causes of your chronic symptoms. 

Given that fascia treatment can be key to resolving chronic issues from whiplash, then what is the right fascia treatment for chronic whiplash symptoms? Fortunately, the requirement of having a therapy that can address all types of fascia dysfunction, no matter where they are in the body, narrows the number of possible treatments down to a very small number. Fascial Counterstrain therapy is one such therapy that can successfully release the inflammation and spasm of fascia in any part of the body.  It has the added advantage of being able to systematically find and treat the most hidden causes of chronic pain. 

Contact us if you want to find out more about how Fascial Counterstrain therapy can help with chronic whiplash symptoms.

How Long Does Whiplash Last For?

The length that you experience whiplash-related symptoms depends on the severity of injury, the presence of underlying injuries, and your age. Whiplash symptoms can last for days, weeks, months or even years. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [2] states that most people recover fully within three months. Whiplash symptoms that last longer than six months are known as having whiplash syndrome. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people who are suffering with whiplash syndrome. Do you find yourself in this group of people? 

The length of whiplash symptoms is also dependent on whether and when you receive treatment, and on what type of treatment you have undergone. Some typical treatments for whiplash include pain management (rest, pain and muscle relaxer medications, hot-cold therapy, injections), exercise, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture. 

However, there is a large number of people who – even with receiving several types of treatment – have still not been able to fully recover from persistent whiplash syndrome. It is especially frustrating or disheartening for those who get expensive MRI scans or X-rays that don’t indicate the problem that could then be addressed [Click Here To Learn Why].

Three Things to Consider When Choosing Chronic Whiplash Pain Treatment

As we discussed in previous sections, when the cause of your long-lasting whiplash pain can’t be imaged, how do you choose the right help for it? One should take into account 

1) that injury to fascia and fascia dysfunction can be the main cause of why someone feels chronic pain, and 

2) that fascia injury cannot be imaged if it occurred at a scale smaller than the imaging technique, and 

3) that the size of the fascia injury does not matter: very small-scale fascia injuries can cause significant pain.

Chronic whiplash needs all the separate types of injured and dysfunctional fascia to be treated around the neck, head, and shoulders [Explained Why Here]. These requirements for full fascia treatment fortunately dramatically reduce the number of treatment options that one has available to consider in order to choose the right therapy. 

Fascial Counterstrain therapy is one such treatment that fulfils your body’s need to have all the different fascial systems of the neck, shoulders and head comprehensively addressed in order to be rid of chronic whiplash syndrome.

Contact us if you want to find out more about how Fascial Counterstrain therapy can help your specific chronic whiplash pain symptoms.

What Treatments Are Most Effective for Whiplash?

There are many treatment options out there for whiplash. How do you know or choose what to do to help you recover from your injury? Common treatments for whiplash that you’re probably already familiar with include taking prescribed medications, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, exercise, and injections. 

Given the breadth of choice of treatments, it can be bewildering to know what the right one is for you, particularly if you have tried other treatments that haven’t worked and you also want to reduce or avoid drugs. For those of you who haven’t gotten long-lasting relief, having faith that a specific treatment can help is a challenge – especially when every treatment claims to help, yet none that you’ve tried have truly resolved your issue. There are many people out there like yourself whose whiplash symptoms haven’t improved, and they often face the difficult choice of whether to live with pain or take risky painkiller drugs like opioids.

Whether a particular whiplash treatment was able to help you or not has been traditionally thought to depend on variables such as the severity of the injury, any pre-existing conditions, and age. However, even if you have tried some of these therapies without full success, this doesn’t mean that your chronic whiplash symptoms can’t be helped. 

Large numbers of people with chronic whiplash symptoms can be helped without the need for drugs when their body’s fascia dysfunction is helped. In the previous sections we have explained 1) how injury to the soft tissues is signaled to you by the fascia in and around those injured tissues, and 2) that pain can persist because of injury and dysfunction that can occur to that fascia, and 3) that fascia can be found everywhere and around nearly every part of your body. These facts have profound effects on how much one can be helped if all the areas and types of injured fascia are appropriately helped. 

For example, let’s consider a cause of chronic whiplash symptoms that is not commonly addressed by the majority of whiplash treatments: A whiplash motion of your head and neck can injure the soft tissue and fascia around the arteries and veins of the neck. If the fascia of the arteries and veins themselves is injured in such a way that the fascia can’t complete the healing process, then this can cause you to experience chronic pain and tightness in your neck. 

In short, it is important to address all the injured and dysfunctional fascia types that are present around the neck, shoulders and head when treating chronic whiplash symptoms and pain. This is a powerful key to a successful recovery. Therefore, the choice of therapies to choose from that help you fully resolve whiplash pain is down to a small number of options; i.e. those that can address the many different types of fascia, anywhere in the body. 

Fascial Counterstrain therapy is such a treatment and fulfills this requirement. Fascial Counterstrain therapists are able to identify, assess, and treat fascia injuries of all types, anywhere in the body. 

Contact us if you want to find out more about how Fascial Counterstrain therapy can help chronic whiplash symptoms.

How Counterstrain Works to Relieve Whiplash Pain

“Stuck” inflammation maintains your pain.  It can cause pain to become chronic, and causes your body to stay stuck in a compensation “guarding” pattern that was originally intended to protect the injury site – temporarily!

Fascial Counterstrain therapy is designed to relieve pain by releasing fascia spasm in all parts of the body. This approach triggers the release of the associated “stuck” inflammation, providing long-lasting pain relief. Releasing the causes of inflammation and fascia spasm allows the body to relax and return back to a more properly-functioning, “factory settings” efficient state.

The way Fascial Counterstrain therapy works is by relaxing your body’s fascial tissue using precise and gentle positioning and gentle glides. These positions and glides are chosen based on the presence of specific painful Tender Points. 

Tender Points are small diagnostic points that when painful indicate the presence of a particular fascia spasm. Tender Points are similar to Trigger Points, but unlike Trigger Points that are located only in muscles, Tender Points can be located anywhere across the body. 

Moving the body into a position of ease with precise positioning and gentle glides helps the Tender Point and the specific anatomy to relax, and allows painful “stuck” inflammation to drain out of the specific fascial tissue in need of help – whether it is nerve tissue, arterial or vein tissue, muscle tissue, etc. This simple solution has profound effects for people with complex physical problems. 

The three main results of Fascial Counterstrain treatment often provide long-term pain relief for most people, even those with chronic neck or whiplash pain.

Fascial Counterstrain: 

1) Effectively releases “stuck” inflammation, which reduces pain.

2) Resets the reflex triggering the inflammation, which stops the pain-spasm loop from continuing unhelpfully on and on…

3) And reduces inflammation and tightness,

The bonus fourth benefit of receiving Fascial Counterstrain therapy is that you will get help for the most hidden causes of pain that can reside in any part of the body. All of these together give your body the healing and recovery tools to achieving optimal healing and health! 

Contact us to find out more about how Fascial Counterstrain therapy works and how it can help rid you of your chronic whiplash pain.

[1] 1998-2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, 12 17). Whiplash. Retrieved from MAYO CLINIC: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/whiplash/symptoms-causes/syc-20378921

[2] 2019-2020 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2020, 12 17) https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Whiplash-Information-Page 

Call Now ButtonSpeak to a Therapist