Treatment Approaches for Whiplash Injuries

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The pain and restricted motion you experience after a whiplash injury is due to injured tissue. It is also due to the protective response of the nervous system. Your nervous system purposely locks up your spinal joints to protect you from injury to the spinal cord itself. It is your chiropractor’s job to restore your injured tissues and unlock your spinal joints. Your treatment plan will depend entirely on your particular diagnosis. However, there are many traditional approaches used for whiplash. Let’s discuss a few of them. 

The most common treatment for whiplash is manual manipulation. Manual manipulation of the spine restores the normal movement and position of the vertebrae.

Manual manipulation is the most effective treatment for minimizing the long-term effects of whiplash. It is even more effective when used with massage therapy, trigger point therapy, exercise rehabilitation and other soft tissue rehabilitation therapies.

Some spinal manipulation techniques are:

Specific Spinal Manipulation: Your chiropractor will identify specific joints that show restricted motion, known as subluxations. He will return motion to the joint using a gentle thrusting motion. The gentle thrusting rapidly stretches the soft tissue as well as stimulates the nervous system.

Flexion-Distraction Technique: This is a gentle manipulation that does not use any thrust. It is often used to treat bulging or herniated discs. Your chiropractor will use a special table to assist with this technique that uses a slow pumping action on the disc rather than a direct force.

Instrument-Assisted Manipulation: This is another non-thrusting technique. To do this procedure, your chiropractor will use a hand-held instrument to apply force without thrusting the spine.

In addition to manipulation, your chiropractor may also use manual therapies. These therapies treat injured soft tissues such as ligaments and muscles.

Some examples of manual therapies include:

Trigger Point Therapy: Your chiropractor will identify tight, painful points on a muscle. Once identified, your chiropractor will put direct pressure on these points with their fingers to relieve the tension.

Manual Joint Stretching and Resistance Techniques: These are techniques that help to stretch out your joints against some form of resistance. One common resistant manual joint therapy technique is called muscle energy therapy. In this therapy, you will actively use your muscles in a specific direction while your chiropractor applies a counterforce to your movements.

Therapeutic Massage: Therapeutic massage is the manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissue, and is generally used for the reduction of stress and pain. This differs from “getting a massage” with the main goal of relaxation. Though you may feel relaxed after a therapeutic massage, the goal is the relief of pain.

Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Therapy: Your chiropractor will perform repeated strokes with an instrument over the muscle injury area. These strokes are gentle and have a massage-like quality.

In addition to the different kinds of manual techniques available to your chiropractor, he may also treat your whiplash injury with other modalities. Some examples include:

Interferential Current (IFC): The IFC machine produces electrical currents that pass through the affected area of the patient by placing two electrodes on the skin at a painful area or the spinal nerve root associated with a painful region. Alternating currents are applied and the currents rise and fall at different frequencies. These frequencies cause the body to produce endorphin’s, which stops the pain signals from reaching the brain.

Laser Therapy:  Laser therapy generates a photochemical response in damaged tissue by a process called photobiomodulation. This process stimulates healing on a cellular level by enabling cells to more rapidly produce energy (ATP), thus resulting in less pain and inflammation.

Ultrasound: Therapeutic ultrasound stimulates tissue below the skin’s surface using sound waves. Essentially, it is a high frequency massage that goes below the surface of the skin.

Therapeutic Exercises: These exercises improve the joint mechanics and return your spine to normal motion. Chiropractors commonly prescribe specific strengthening exercises for their patients with whiplash.

If you or anyone you know has recently been in an accident, give our office a call directly at 905-264-9355 to see if our therapies and approach to whiplash injuries could get you Back to Life.

Stages of Whiplash Therapy

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
neck pain from whiplash

Whiplash Therapy

In the initial intensive or relief care phase of chiropractic care for whiplash, the main goal is to get rid of your pain and stabilize your condition as quickly as possible after your car accident.

Your chiropractor will concentrate on reducing inflammation by using ultrasound and/or gentle stretching and manual therapies. You may also use cold therapy or a neck support.

As your neck area becomes less inflamed, your chiropractor will begin to use spinal manipulation to help you return normal motion to your spinal joints.

The number of times you visit a chiropractor during the relief stage will vary based on your particular condition. Typically, however, this phase lasts from a week to a month, with visits three times per week.

Once you have passed through the relief stage, you will move on to the rehabilitative stage of therapy. During this phase, you will have begun participating in your normal activities again. However, if you do not continue treatment, your pain is likely to reappear because your condition has not yet been fully stabilized.

The goals of rehabilitative care include:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Increased muscle control and coordination
  • Increased balance
  • Reducing fear and avoidance of normal activities

This phase of care can take a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your condition. Typically, the amount of care is not quite as frequent as relief care.

During the various phases of care your chiropractor will continuously assess your progress to ensure the effects of whiplash are either minimized or completely eliminated. Visiting your chiropractor is one of the most important practitioners you should visit after a car accident. If you have recently been involved in  a car accident or know someone who has- give us a call today at 905-264-9355 for a free consultation with Dr. Birk. For almost 15 years he has helped thousands of car accident patients get Back to Life, don’t wait a second longer, call us today.

Chiropractic care for Whiplash

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

When you see your chiropractor after an auto accident, he will do a thorough evaluation of your entire spine, from top to bottom. He will check your neck (cervical spine), your mid-back (thoracic spine) and your low back (lumbar spine). Although you may just have neck pain, any region of your spine may be affected which is why a thorough examination is crucial.

What will your chiropractor be looking for? 

  • Restricted joint motion
  • Disc injury
  • Muscle spasm
  • Ligament injury

Your chiropractor has a host of diagnostic tests that can help him determine where your problems lie and how severe your injuries may be. For instance, he will use motion and static palpations, which is an examination by means of touch. During the palpations, he will be checking for tenderness, tightness and movement.

Your chiropractor will also take a look at your overall posture and how you walk. This will help him determine whether your body mechanics are working properly and if there are any concerns post-accident.

In most cases as a precaution, your chiropractor will send you for x-rays to see if you have any degeneration or misalignment of the spine. These x-rays can also help your chiropractor determine if you need a CAT scan or an MRI for further diagnosis.

Once all the diagnostic tests have been done, your chiropractor will understand your unique case of whiplash, the severity and how best to help you with an effective treatment plan. A treatment plan may consist of various stages such as relief care, rehabilitation care, and maintenance care.

Although there are other therapies available to car accident victims, studies have shown that Chiropractic care is the best therapy for whiplash. A study in 2006 called “Chiropractic treatment of chronic whiplash injuries.” was undertaken to determine the effects of chiropractic in a group of 28 patients who had been referred with chronic ‘whiplash’ syndrome. The severity of patients’ symptoms was assessed before and after treatment. Ninety-three percent of patients improved following chiropractic treatment.

If you’ve been in a car accident, don’t wait a second longer- get your thorough examination today by calling our office in Woodbridge 905-264-9355. 

Injuries Resulting From Whiplash Trauma

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Many factors determine the overall whiplash trauma that an individual will experience. It depends upon such things as:

  • Direction of impact
  • Speed of vehicles
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Physical condition

Not only does whiplash look slightly different in each individual, but it also may take weeks or months to rear its “ugly head”. This is known as delayed onset whiplash. Even though there is no prescribed pattern to whiplash, there are certain conditions that are common.

Neck Pain: Neck pain is the most common complaint when suffering from whiplash. Often this pain goes across the shoulders, up into the head and then down between the shoulder blades. Whiplash injuries tend to affect all of the tissues in the neck, including the facet joints, discs, as well as all of the muscles, ligaments and nerves.

The soreness you feel on the back of the neck, often to the right or left of center, is due to facet joint pain. This pain is typically tender to the touch. When you have pain due to the facet joint, your chiropractor will not be able to see it on an x-ray or MRI. Instead, your doctor will have to physically palpate the area to find the problem.

Disc injury tends to be the reason for chronic pain induced by whiplash. The outer wall of the disc (annulus) is made up of fibers that can easily be torn during a car accident. These tears lead to disc degeneration and herniations, which in turn, cause irritation and compression of the nerves running close to the disc. Once the degeneration or herniation has begun, your pain will move from being a neck pain to one that radiates into the arms, shoulders and upper back. You may even experience muscle weakness.

The immediate pain that you feel after a car accident is often due to damaged muscles and ligaments. This damage causes stiffness and restricted motion. As the muscles heal, the pain lessens. However, the restricted movement may continue. Damage to the ligaments often results in abnormal movement and instability.

Headaches: Headaches are the next most common complaint from someone suffering a whiplash injury. Although some headaches are due to the brain hitting the skull during impact, many are due to injury to muscles, ligaments and facet joints of the cervical spine.

TMJ Dysfunction: TMJ is the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint along with the surrounding muscles. TMJ dysfunction can be quite painful, making it difficult to eat, swallow and yawn. Common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Limited ability to open the mouth wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” in the open or closed position
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds
  • Tired feeling in the face
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Sudden uncomfortable bite as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Toothache
  • Headache
  • Neck ache
  • Dizziness
  • Earaches
  • Hearing problems

If not properly evaluated and treated, TMJ problems can continue to worsen and lead to headaches, facial pain, ear pain and difficulty eating.

Brain Injury: The human brain is made up of soft tissue. This tissue is suspended in a watery substance known as cerebrospinal fluid. During an accident, as your head and neck are thrown first backward, then forward, then back again, your brain bounces off the skull and can lead to bruising and bleeding. Although it is possible to lose consciousness due to such an injury, most people remain conscious but report feeling confused or disoriented in the short term. In the long term, brain injury from whiplash can cause things such as:

  • Mild confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Depression
  • Emotional instability

In fact, it is even possible that your sense of smell and taste, or even your vision is affected.

Dizziness: Dizziness is typically a result of injury to the facet joints of the spine, though it is possible that it results from a brain injury. Luckily, dizziness is a very temporary side effect of whiplash and can be easily treated with chiropractic.

Low Back Pain: Most people think of neck pain when they think of whiplash. Many of us have seen the neck collars worn by someone who was recently in a car accident. The lower back, however, is also prone to injury during the four phases of whiplash. In fact, low back pain is found in nearly one-half of all rear-end collisions and nearly 75 percent of all side impact crashes.2   Why is the lower back subject to injury? Despite not having the large range of flexion and extension, the lower back still goes through tremendous compression. This compression causes injury to the discs, ligaments and muscles.

For a thorough evaluation feel free to contact our chiropractic office in Woodbridge at 905-264-9355 to learn more about Whiplash and how we help patients recover from their car accident pain.

Back to Basics.. What is Whiplash?

Monday, June 5th, 2017

whiplash_woodbridge_car_accidentIf you have been riding or driving in a car during your life, the odds are that you have been in an automobile accident. During a survey, it was found that over 25% of drivers were involved in an auto accident in a five-year period.  In fact, someone is injured by a car crash every 14 seconds, which is the leading cause of acquired disability nationwide.

One of the most common injuries in an automobile accident is whiplash. Let’s learn more about whiplash and what Atlantis Chiropractic in Woodbridge can do to help.

What Is Whiplash

Whiplash is an extremely rapid extension and flexion of the neck that results in injuries to the vertebrae, nerves, discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons.

There are four phases of whiplash injury. During a rear-end car crash, your body goes through a rapid acceleration and deceleration. In fact, going through the four phases of whiplash take less than a second.

During the first phase, your car is pushed out from under you and your back is flattened against the seat. This force shoves your cervical spine upwards and compresses your discs and joints. Additionally, your head moves backwards, creating stress. Your headrest should help reduce the movement of your neck, but damage can still occur.

In phase two, your torso is accelerating faster than your vehicle but your head is still going backwards. This creates an S-curve in your cervical spine. During this same time, your seat is now recoiling forward acting like a springboard, causing your torso to move forward even more rapidly.

During the third phase, your torso comes to rest again in your seat, but your head and neck are accelerating forward creating an S-curve in the opposite direction.

During the fourth and final phase of whiplash, your torso is stopped by the seatbelt and your head continues to move forward with nothing to stop it. This results in a violent forward bending motion of your neck. This force can result in muscle strains and tears, in vertebrae being shoved out of their normal position, in the spinal cord being stretched and irritated, and even the brain hitting the inside of your skull.

Unlike broken bones or torn ligaments, an x-ray cannot detect whiplash, so it is much harder to diagnose and easier to go untreated. Newer imaging devices such as a CAT Scan, MRI, and ultrasound can show soft tissue injury, so it is essential if you’ve been in an accident that you seek treatment with someone who can provide these diagnostic tests.

The most common whiplash symptoms are:

  • Neck pain and/or stiffness
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Pain in the arms or legs, feet and hands
  • Headache
  • Low back pain and/or stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vertigo
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Pain in the jaw or face

Find relief today from your Car Accident pain by contacting Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness in Woodbridge for a free initial consultation with Dr. Birk.

Whiplash injuries and the human factor

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

A typical whiplash event lasts for “well under 500ms”. However, following a car accident, “15% to 40% of the patients develop chronic neck pain” that persists overtime (Schofferman et. al, 2007). The chronic neck pain originates firstly due to cervical facet joint and secondly due to injuries to the vertebral discs. Our spine at the neck level has a normal S-shape curve. Schofferman finds that in whiplash injury patients “the forward acceleration of the torso deforms the cervical spine into a non-physiologic S-shape curve”. This change in shape of the curve if not restored results in chronic pain that persists a lifetime. In 20% of the patients there is a delay in the time between the collision and the onset of the pain. At Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness, Dr. Birk does a thorough examination of the spine with physical examination of the spine followed by imagining tests to visualise the individual vertebrae.

Schofferman research findings show that “severity of the property damage is not a reliable predictor of injury or outcome in low speed collisions”. The vehicles are designed to absorb physical shock on impact and transmit energy. On the contrary, human bodies are not. Individual tissue within our body processes the whiplash impact differently and the spine being the most vulnerable to irreversible injuries. Research by Schofferman and his group found that the difference in speed between vehicles was not an indicator of whiplash symptom chronicity. It was the intensity of initial symptoms after whiplash injuries that determined the prevalence of prolonged disability symptoms.

If you have been in a car accident, it is important that you get your spine checked by an experienced chiropractor. Whiplash injuries to your neck can damage the cervical spine with wear and tears and misplaced vertebrae. Dr. Birk specialises in car accident injuries. He has over 10 years of experiences in both acute and chronic neck pain injuries. On your first visit Dr. Birk will take a detailed history as well as does a thorough examination to determine the cause behind the symptoms.



Schofferman J, bogduk and Slosar P. 2007. Chronic Whiplash –associated disorders: An evidence based approach. Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons; 15: 596-606

Murphy, Dan. 2008. Whiplash Overview.


If you have been in a car accident call 905-264-9355 to book your FREE consultation today!

Whiplash causes hyperextension of the neck

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

whiplash-injuryHave you been in a motor vehicle accident? Then you have experienced whiplash to some degree. Whiplash causes hyperextension of the neck in the direction of the impact. Patients often experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, and migraine-like headaches. Your neck consists of the cervical spine with nerve fibres exiting and entering the spine as well as the vertebral artery. This artery provides blood to the brain. Hyperextension of the neck causes direct injury to the cervical nerve roots, cervical joints, and the vertebral artery.

Persistent and chronic headaches during whiplash injuries often originate in the neck not in the head. Hyperextension of the neck injures the delicate nerve fibres that in turn feedback to the muscles (Seletz, 1958). This causes persistent muscle spasms and this pain manifests as headaches. If those cervical nerve fibres are left untreated, their condition deteriorates overtime leading to prolonged pain for months or even years after the initial injury.

Whiplash can also lead to rotation of the cervical spine and dislocation of the vertebrae. This dislocation can pinch on either the cervical nerve roots or the vertebral artery. These dislocated joints can be adjusted back to their normal position overtime. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to be the most effective treatment for whiplash injury patients (Seletz, 1958). At Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness, Dr. Birk does a through physical examination of the spine as well as order imagining tests to see the location of individual vertebrae within the spine. He can adjust the dislocated vertebrae and joints, thus relieving pressure from the nerve fibres and vertebral artery. These adjustments must be carried out daily following the first three weeks after the injury. If left untreated the dislocation can cause degeneration of the spine.

Seletz, Emil. 1958. Whiplash Injuries: Neurophysiological Basis for Pain and Methods used for Rehabilitation. Journal of American Medical Association. Nov 29: 1750-1755.

Murphy, Dan. 2008. Whiplash Overview.

  Have you been injured in a car accident? Dr. Birk provides a FREE consultation at no charge. Call 905-264-9355 to schedule your appointment today!


Suffering from neck pain after a car accident?

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


If you have ever been in a car accident than you know that the road to recovery can be long and uncertain. You realize in retrospect how your life has changed dramatically in those split seconds. The moments before the accident you were fine and suddenly your life takes a turn for the worse. The most basic things you take for granted become painful and problematic. Painful headaches, dizziness, neck pain, numbness and muscle soreness become a reality. Now basic tasks such as comprehension, reading and sleeping become painful and require energy.

 If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you are suffering from whiplash. Whiplash is caused by sudden jerking motion of your cervical spine in any direction. Whiplash can damage your neck ligaments and if not treated properly scar tissue can develop instead leading to chronic pain down the road. Medical studies have shown that about 43% of patients develop long term chronic pain due to whiplash and no conventional treatment has been effective to treat this pain.

If you do not revive immediate treatment for whiplash, these injuries will only get worse. More than half the patients will suffer from long term pain leading to a deterioration in their quality of life. Traditional methods such as pain killers and “wait-and-see” approach do not work with whiplash. Several studies have shown that chiropractic care has been effective for whiplash injuries compared to conventional treatments or drugs. So why wait? If you want to get your quality of life back, see a chiropractor today!

  At Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness we offer a free consultation where the doctor can examine you and do comprehensive tests to assess your injuries. Please call us at 905-264-9355 to book your appointment today!



Whiplash and neck injuries often cause spinal subluxations

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


Individuals who undergo car accidents end up in emergency care. Here they undergo X-rays, CT scans, MRI and other scans to make sure they are not suffering from any life threatening injuries such as internal bleeding, broken bones, organ damage, shock, serious contusions and other damage. If those scans and tests show “nothing”, the emergency care doctors release these patients. However, the patient’s spine is not examined for subluxations: spinal misalignments. Majority of car accident victims end up with subluxations. Thus, subluxations get overlooked. Accumulation of subluxations results in disc problems and development of arthritis overtime; often several years after the initial car accident injury.

One cause for subluxations is physical trauma. Whiplash is a common cause for neck-pain in car accident patients. Some patients develop long term chronic neck-pain several months after the injury (and after the legal settlement). About 50% to 88% of car accident victims experience some form of pain and disability many years after the accident1. Thus, once the patient’s condition is stabilised, they should get their spine checked by a Doctor of Chiropractic for subluxations. The Chiropractor uses “adjustments” to realign the misplaced vertebra; restoring the spinal structure safely without the use of drugs or surgery.



The treatment of whiplash injury with chiropractic adjustments has been shown to be effective and reported in professional journals2. In one study, when 41 male and female patients were placed under chiropractic care, they noticed a reduction in pain levels after 20 office visits3. The superiority of chiropractic care treatment for whiplash injury patients has been cited in medical journal. Here the authors interview 93 patients and concluded that “Chiropractic is the only proven effective treatment in chronic (whiplash injury) cases”4.



In conclusion, car accidents can cause subluxations and misalign your spinal column. If you have ever been involved in an accident please see your doctor of chiropractic to ensure these subluxations are treated in time. If left untreated they may cause more structural damage to the spine and premature degeneration resulting in health problems down the road.



Call Atlantis Chiropractic and Wellness at (905) 264-9355 to book your free consultation



  1. B. Squires, M. F. Gargan, and G. C. Bannister. Soft tissue injuries of the cervical spine: 15-year follow-up. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1996; (70B):955957
  2.  McCoy HG and McCoy M. A multiple parameter assessment of whiplash injury patients undergoing subluxation based chiropractic care: a retrospective study. JVSR. 1997;1(3):51-91.
  3. Davis C. Chiropractic treatment in acute whiplash injuries: grades 1 & 2. JVSR. May 19, 2008;1-3.
  4. Khan S, Cook J, Gargan M, Bannister G. Symptomatic classification of whiplash injury and the implications for treatment.. The
    Journal Of Orthopedic Medicine. 1999;21(1)


Professor Ian Macnab States Important

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Ian Macnab, an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and also the Chief of Division of Orthopaedic Surgery in the Wellesley Hospital, Toronto states that:

 “Acceleration depends on the force applied and the inertia of the vehicle that has been struck. Continue Reading »