Whiplash occurs when a person’s body moves very suddenly in one direction immediately followed by the opposite direction. This musculoskeletal injury is most common following a collision involving a car accident, typically a rear-end shunt, and most often affects the head on the body and therefore causes microtrauma in the neck and subsequent neck pain. Similarly, it is a common cause of physical abuse, contact sports injuries, and amusement park rides. Whiplash, which is an injury caused by extending soft tissues beyond their normal range and how the injury occurs (specifically tendons, muscles, and ligaments) is often used to refer to neck injuries caused by this trauma. As a result, microtrauma may occur and soft tissue symptoms such as muscle spasms, muscle tension, and chronic pain may result. Your whiplash might not be apparent immediately after the injury. Signs and symptoms such as neck pain sometimes take 24 hours or a few days to appear. Our physiotherapists can provide medical advice on pain management, how we deal with whiplash treatment, the health issues caused by these injuries to the neck, and how we can medically assist the patient's long-term recovery with physiotherapy. NHS tests have been conducted on patients suffering from chronic whiplash-associated disorders in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study of nerve inflammation.
Physiotherapy is extremely effective at treating the nine common symptoms of whiplash. The most likely cause of pain is a strain on the small joints of the neck - the facet joints. Apart from painkillers, physiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments to explore for whiplash recovery. These treatments help to offload your muscles and relieve tension, whilst improving mobility in the area and optimising the healing process. A physiotherapist can play a crucial role in the early stages of recovery from whiplash. It is not uncommon for recovery from whiplash to take months. Some people may find that it limits their employment opportunities and activities.
There are some extremely common whiplash symptoms that can occur, your Physical therapist will be able to relieve pain symptoms by working on poor posture:
Some people experience a strong stress reaction to the trauma with symptoms such as nightmares, intrusive thoughts about the trauma and finding themselves more irritable and quick to temper than is usual for them
In anatomical terms, whiplash is hyperextension followed by hyperflexion of the cervical vertebrae spraining the nuchal ligament and the Anterior Longitudinal Ligament respectively. It can also damage the cervical spine (the neck region of the spine), causing a herniated disc in the neck. In response to the traumatic shock of the accident or incident, your body will naturally produce adrenaline and other hormones. This will protect the area and delay the onset of pain. Radiating tingling, weakness, or numbness can be caused by one of the neck's spinal cord roots being compressed or inflamed. As adrenaline and hormones wear off as the body relaxes, it can be noticed that you begin to feel symptoms and pain. Here are some examples: headaches, tenderness, or pain typically in the neck and or shoulder area, tingling or numbness on one or both sides of your body, problems walking, sitting upright, and arms or legs feeling weak. You may also experience headaches or a feeling of pain and numbness that travels down your arms.
Muscle spasms or cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of a muscle or group of muscles. They can be caused by too much twisting, and muscle strain and lead to arm and neck pain. Chronic neck pain. MRI has been used to identify nerve inflammation as a possible source of symptoms in patients suffering from chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD).
There are several physical therapy treatments that your physiotherapist can provide for whiplash pain relief and to help you make a full recovery. These treatments and exercises will promote correct posture and involve specific stretching. Whiplash could also be described as a soft tissue injury to the neck. This is caused when the tendons and ligaments are stretched beyond their normal range of movement, resulting in a neck sprain, or neck strain. At your first appointment, our physiotherapist will examine the affected area, asking questions so that they can understand exactly what has happened to the neck. Your Abbey physio will then put together a personalised physiotherapy treatment plan following an initial consultation.
Physiotherapists will recommend stretches and exercises to reduce pain in the affected muscles, strengthen the overall area, and enhance blood circulation around the neck. This will enable them to restore normal motion.
Whiplash physiotherapy treatments will tend to be passive and consist of manual therapies which we have found proven in the treatment of whiplash symptoms and provide effective pain relief.
As part of your personalised recovery plan, our physiotherapist will demonstrate a selection of exercises that will optimise your recovery from whiplash. These exercises will assist you in returning to a full range of movement. Keeping your neck mobile is the key to recovery. It is recommended that you continue with your daily activities. Neck collars or braces are not recommended as they do not allow you to move your neck to gain back an adequate range of movement. This prolongs what some people describe as acute pain. Getting adequate pain relief with simple painkillers is imperative in the early stages as this will allow you to move around more freely. Gentle stretching and manual therapy techniques are most commonly used to restore the intervertebral muscles.
In addition to taking Paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen, you may find that applying a cool pack to your neck is helpful to relieve pain and reduce swelling, especially in the first 2-3 days. After this heat may also be helpful but not in the first 48 hours. It is important to keep moving despite the pain. It is a very significant part of your whiplash treatment that you are able to control the pain caused by the injury. This will enable you to get back to your normal activities as soon as possible. Key to this recovery will be the ability to return to a normal range of motion in your neck. Physical Therapy can help you feel better and may prevent further injury.
Every individual, accident, and whiplash injury is different, so the prognosis, rehabilitation, and pain treatment plan that your physio prescribes may vary depending on your own personal circumstances. Neck exercises may include bending, stretching, working towards Good Posture, and back pain treatment using specific treatment options.
The evidence says that most symptoms of whiplash have gone by 6-12 months after injury but Physiotherapy early on can speed up the recovery time and ensure the recovery is complete and has a low risk of re-occurring symptoms in the future.
Abbey Physiotherapy can help reduce the initial pain and restore confidence and the ability to move. Reassurance about the level of injury and recovery potential can also be very therapeutic. At Abbey Physiotherapy we receive referrals from insurance companies for RTA-related whiplash injuries and also accept self-referred patients. Contact the clinic below to arrange your first session.
Visit your GP who may diagnose and prescribe or a local pharmacy for over-the-counter advice on pain relief and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that may help you.
Low back pain is occasionally seen after whiplash and may be caused by injury to the discs, facet joints of the low back, or sacroiliac joints. Whiplash of the lower back is caused by a sharp, sudden movement of the trunk either forwards, backward, or to the side. The injury is similar to whiplash of the neck but involves the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the posterior spine. It also could signal a sprain, herniated discs, or other soft-tissue injuries (such as muscle damage). If accompanied by tingling or numbness, it could also point to pinched nerves causing discomfort in the lumbar spine area causing lower back pain.
Sports massage is a firm deep tissue massage therapy which is the most effective therapy for treating muscular pain, tension and for putting your body in balanceSports Massage
Joint mobilisation techniques focus on attaining a normal range of pain-free joint motion.Mobilisations
TENS is an abbreviation of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. A Tens machine may assist in modest short-term pain relief. Ultrasound aids tissue healing for soft tissue injuriesElectrotherapy
the use of taping and strapping techniques to aid both the treatment and prevention of injurySports taping
Rehabilitation is the process to regain full function following injury. This involves restoring strength, flexibility, endurance and power and is achieved through various exercises and drillsExercise Rehabilitation
An exercise programme that aims to improve stabilisation and support to the spine. This is achieved by re-training specific trunk muscles, which may be under usedCore Strength
Treatment for a sports injury will depend on factors such as how severe the injury is and the part of your body affected.Sports Injuries
Upper back and neck pain can stop you in your tracks, making it difficult to go about your typical day.Back Pain
The most common soft tissues injured are muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries often occur during sports and exercise activities, but sometimes simple everyday activities can cause an injury.Strains and Sprains
A fracture is when a bone has been broken. A dislocation is where a bone has been displaced from its normal position at a joint.Fractures
Whiplash is a term that describes a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sidewaysWhiplash Symptoms
A Headache is a pain in any region of the head. Headaches can occur on one or both sides of the head, or be isolated to a certain location. A headache may be a sharp pain, throbbing sensation or dull acheHeadaches
is a pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg, caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back, often owing to degeneration of an inter-vertebral disc.Sciatica
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with ageArthritis
a condition in which the prolonged performance of repetitive actions, typically with the hands, causes pain or impairment of function in the tendons and muscles involvedRSI