Have you ever been in a motor vehicle injury?
If yes, chances are you experienced some neck pain and stiffness.
This is a whiplash injury!
A whiplash injury is commonly associated with pain any thing from stiffness to pain to significant disability of the neck and surrounding areas.
The injury occurs due to an acceleration then deceleration force on the neck.
This can cause a variety of issues including injuries to the muscles, ligaments and joints of the neck.
Although whiplash is typically associated with car accidents this is not the only time when people experience this type of injury.
Whiplash can also occur on the sporting field.
Contact sports where the neck is put under a sudden acceleration then deceleration force, eg a heavy contact tackle, a punch in boxing, landing on your back and you head sling shotting to the ground (ouch).
The result is. like the picture below.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Different people have varying symptoms of whiplash which can be dependent on multiple factors such as speed of impact, the position of you head and neck on impact and the physical characteristics of the person.
Neck pain and stiffness are the most commonly reported symptoms of whiplash.
Other symptoms that patients often experience include
- Arm pain
- Blurred vision
It is also is extremely important due to the typically traumatic nature of a whiplash injury that we identify other more sinister issues that will need addressing.
- Numbness or pins and needles in one or both of the arms
- Weakness of the upper limb and loss of reflexes
- Breathing difficulties
- Difficulty supporting the head on your neck
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
Most people who experience a whiplash injury will completely recover within 3 months of the initial injury.
BUT, this can vary depending on the factors mentioned above and can resolve a lot quicker or a lot slower than you may expect.
In some cases symptoms can last up to a year or longer.
This means that is important to get diagnosed and begin treatment early in order to get the best possible result and avoid ending up with a chronic condition.
How is whiplash diagnosed?
Whiplash is typically diagnosed by a physiotherapist after in-depth questioning and testing.
Physio’s are also great at ruling out more sinister injuries of the neck such as fractures and spinal cord involvement.
We perform a thorough subjective exam first getting a really clear history on what happened, when it happen and how it is currently affecting you. Basically well ask. You a tone of questions to get really clear on the problems and issues you are having.
Then we perform an objective exam which involves testing things such as range of movement, strength of the neck musculature, and special tests to identify stiffness or any deficits within the vertebral joints.
Treatment for whiplash
Fighting Fit Physiotherapists are highly qualified to assist in the management of a whiplash injury.
Treatment will always depend on the individual presentation.
Typically patients with whiplash will need to be treated with a combination of physical and manual therapies, education and psychological support as well as good medical care from their GP.
Physiotherapy for whiplash disorders will have the following aims:
- Reduce pain and stiffness through utilising manual therapy and exercises techniques
- Improve head and neck range of movement
- Develop strength in deep neck flexors
- Restore optimal function and health of the neck, upper back and lumbar spine as well as shoulders.
What can I do for whiplash?
There is always something you can do.
Here at Fighting Fit we like to keep our whiplash patients moving and start it early!
These are some exercises that you can get started with to reduce the stiffness felt in your neck. you cant make it into see us quickly.
Move the neck!
A simple cervical range of movement or motion exercise really helps.
This exercise can be done anywhere at any time and is hugely important for quickly restoring function of the cervical spine following a whiplash injury.
Slowly flex and extend your neck, then bend to the left and to the right, followed by turning to the left and to the right. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions in each plane of movement.
Tip: a heat pack prior to this can assist with analgesia and the feeling of neck stiffness
Add some light stretching of the neck and upper trap.
This is another exercise that can be done anywhere to help relieve muscle tension in your neck.
Place your hand over the top of your head and your other hand behind your back.
Lightly pull your head to the side until your fell a stretch down the side of your neck.
You should feel a light stretch, not pain.
If you experience pain do then you either went to far, or stretching isn’t for you and you need to see us for an alternative exercise to strengthen the neck!
I hope you found some useful information and some tips to help you get through your neck pain and whiplash experience.
We do recommend that anyone that experiences a whip lash injury, be thoroughly assessed and treated for the best possible outcomes both in the short and long term.
Please contact the clinic on 0402938661 to chat to me or one of our highly trained clinicians about your whiplash.
Tyson joined the team in 2020.
Like the rest of the team, Tyson is a Griffith Uni Exercise Science and Physiotherapy Graduate.
He enjoys treating neck pain, low back pain, and has a flare for understanding peoples pain and helping them get great results no matter how long they have suffered for.
Enjoying ALF, surfing and DJ’ing at home in his spare time, Tyson is a great addition to our team.