What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck where the soft tissue structures (muscles, tendons and ligaments) become overstretched and strained. This is generally the result of sudden trauma to the neck and head that results in it being pushed outside its normal range.
You may also feel unwell or ‘foggy’ as concussion may also occur. If you show any signs of concussion, you will need to be assessed by your General Practitioner.
How Does This Occur?
Whiplash is caused by acute (sudden) injuries where your head and neck are suddenly pushed forwards and back such as:
- motor vehicle accident
- head contact or a tackle during sport (e.g. AFL or rugby)
- having an item land on your head and ‘jar’ your neck
- falling over and either jarring or knocking your head
- any other incident that causes a sudden and forceful movement of the neck or head
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
- Neck pain
- Pain may not begin until a few hours to a full day after the incident
- Neck stiffness and restriction in range of motion
- +/- Headache, particularly in the back of the head
- Tenderness when pressing on the neck and shoulders
- Pain in the shoulders, upper back and arms
How Is Whiplash Managed?
An Osteopath will develop a treatment plan and discuss with you after a diagnosis has been made. Generally, a combination of manual therapy, home exercises and relative rest will help you return to normal function.
Pain medications (analgesics and NSAIDs) may be useful as suggested by your General Practitioner if the pain is severe.
Application of heat (e.g. wheat bag, hot water bottle, heat patches) may also relieve tension temporarily.
Manual Therapy may involve:
- stretching of the muscles
- gentle mobilisation of the neck and upper back joints
Some of the more common home exercises for this type of injury include:
- stretching of the neck and shoulder muscles
- exercises to strengthen the muscles in the front of your neck and upper back
- self mobilisation exercises for your neck and back
***every individual case is managed differently so you may require a different form of management***
How Is It Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is often based on the history (e.g. location, onset and type of pain) along with physical examination. Imaging may be required to assist with diagnosis or to check the progression of your recovery.