Whiplash is neck pain following an acceleration/deceleration injury to the soft tissue structures of the neck. Due to the acceleration/deceleration nature of the injury the structures are put through compressive and stretching forces outside of their normal tolerances which can result in widespread damage to a variety of structures e.g. ligaments, facet joint capsule, intervertebral discs and muscles.
Whiplash most commonly results from:
- Motor vehicle accidents where a slow moving or stationary vehicle is hit from behind, typically resulting in a hyperextension injury for the lower neck whilst the upper neck experiences a hyperflexion injury. This leads to an abnormal “S” shape in the neck which causes pain, instability and dysfunction because of the distortion to its normal movement patterns.
- Contact sports.
Common symptoms include;
- Can present as sudden neck pain during the causative activity but frequently presents with little pain after the impact but an increase in pain and stiffness over the next couple of days.
- Stiffness and restriction in neck movements.
- Sharp or dull pain.
- Heaviness of the head.
- Pins and needles through arm and back.
- Upper back pain.
Due to the irritability of whiplash injuries caution is taken to ensure minimal aggravation of your symptoms during treatment.
Physiotherapy treatment(see our ethos) consists of;
- A cervical collar maybe used for short period to stabilise the neck.
- Gentle neck traction.
- Massage to neck muscles in spasm.
- Mobilisation to stiff joints.
- Postural education.
- Restore normal neck movement.
- Education to avoid activities that involve extended poor posture, stress on the neck.