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Whiplash Physiotherapy

Whiplash is a neck injury that’s caused by a sudden powerful lashing force, causing the head and neck to undergo a quick back-to-front movement, similar to how a whip or towel is cracked.

Most of the time, it’s caused by a vehicle slamming into the back of your vehicle…but that being said, whiplash also happens from

  • sports injuries
  • physical abuse / violence
  • traumatic events such as falls

The higher the impact and the whiplash snap, the worse the damage is to the joints of the injured whiplashed neck.

Different grades and severity of whiplash

Whiplash may injure structures such as the

  • spinal disc
  • spinal ligaments
  • tendons
  • nerve roots and
  • neck muscles

There are several grades to the severity of whiplash associated disorders (WAD).

  • Grade 0: No pain or discomfort. No physical signs of injury.
  • Grade 1: Neck presents with very mild pain, stiffness or tenderness. No physical signs of injury.
  • Grade 2: Neck presents with mild pain, stiffness or tenderness. Some physical signs of injury such as point of tenderness or trouble turning the head.
  • Grade 3: Neck presents with moderate pain, stiffness or tenderness and neurological signs of injury, such as changes to the reflexes or weakness in the arms
  • Grade 4: Neck presents with severe pain with fracture or dislocation of the neck.

Symptoms of whiplash injuries

Of course, it’d depend on severity. Many patients with mild whiplash often note that there “isnt” anything wrong or unusual in the beginning, but after a couple of hours or days, they start to feel neck pain and/or neck stiffness.

Other symptoms of whiplash injuries include:

  • Headache
  • Pain in the shoulders and arms
  • Dizziness
  • Altered sensation, pins and needles, numbness in the arms
  • Weakness
  • Visual and auditory symptoms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty in swallowing

What can be done for patients with whiplash injuries?

At the patient’s level, we always recommend patients to try their best to return to as much activity within pain tolerance as possible, instead of staying at home, resting and waiting for the pain to go away.

Often when it comes to soft tissue injuries such as nerves, ligaments, tendons in the neck, it can take from 3-12 months to recover, and studies are showing that patients who are more active be it

  1. going back to work
  2. participating in activities of daily living such as grocery shopping, cooking, house keeping
  3. socializing
  4. exercising

all work together to decrease pain experience and increase strength, stamina and overall improvement; as opposed to purely waiting at home.

Spinal and whiplash physiotherapy is definitely a necessity to go back to normal life

  • Exercise therapy to keep the joints supple and smooth, and strengthen it, as well as treat any pains and improve core and supporting structures. Exercise will help to improve the range of motion for your neck, improve the function, flexibility and even the pain experienced at rest and with movement, which overall works together to improve your lifestyle, work etc.
  • Gentle mobilization techniques on your upper and lower neck to safely and gently improve neck range, movement and control. It may help with pain relief too.
  • Ongoing clinical pilates that will help to improve your neck and core muscle strength, stamina and stability. A byproduct of this is that it’d improve your posture as well which will improve the efficiency of the way you move as well as decrease risk of injury and reinjuries
  • Dry needling and acupuncture for pain relief and to decrease the sensitivity of the nervous system
  • Ultrasound therapy to accelerate soft tissue healing such as ligaments, tendons, muscles etc.

Where To Next?

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