A whiplash injury is a non-medical term describing an injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways. It is most commonly associated with a road traffic accident, but can occur in any number of situations such as falls, trampolining, rugby or similar contact sport, or being struck by an object in the head. The forces involved cause minor or micro- tears in the soft tissues of the neck including ligaments, tendons, muscles and even discs.
Immediately following the injury, many people will not have symptoms and it may take hours or even days for them to appear. The symptoms are often worse the day after the injury and may worsen over the next few days to weeks. Most whiplash injuries tend to resolve on their own but unfortunately some people may continue to have problems long-term and may find it impacts on their life.
SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH:
Neck pain or tenderness
Stiffness, difficulty moving your head, or decreased range of motion
Pain in shoulders or arms
Less common symptoms can include pins and needles, tiredness, disorientation, and irritability.
It is important to see a doctor, as soon as possible following your injury, who will assess you and determine if X-rays are required if a fracture is suspected. Your doctor will give advice on pain killers and prescribe stronger analgesics if necessary- if you have suffered memory loss or loss of consciousness they should be alerted to this.
Apart from pain killers, physiotherapy is one of the most important avenues to explore for whiplash recovery. Evidence shows that most recovery occurs within the two to three months following injury and then tends to plateau. A physiotherapist can play a crucial role in the early stages of recovery from whiplash- physiotherapeutic manual skills have also been shown to be most effective in the first 4-6 weeks of symptoms.
Research has shown that whiplash patients who rest for several weeks and wear a soft collar actually recover more slowly than those who try to follow a normal routine. So, it is important to begin moving as soon as possible as long as any suspicions of a fracture have been cleared. A physiotherapist is ideally suited to help guide you on the appropriate exercises to do safely and progress you as you feel able.
Physiotherapy treatments may include:
Other forms of treatment, less frequently needed, include pain clinic referrals, injections.
Physiotherapists are trained in how to pick up on any worrying signs or symptoms that arise that may require investigations or referral onward. You can be confident at PhysiOptima that you are in good “hands” for recovery from your whiplash injury.
Any questions, please get in touch with the team at PhysiOptima!