Whiplash neck injury is often just called a neck strain. Even though whiplash is often associated with car accidents, any impact or blow that causes your head to jerk forward or backward can cause neck strain.
A whiplash neck injury occurs when the head is suddenly jolted backwards and forwards or forwards then backwards in a whip-like movement, or when suddenly rotated. The sudden force stretches and tears your neck muscles and tendons. Sometimes the blow is strong enough to damage the vertebrae, intervertebral disc, nerves and other tissues of neck. The following are major factors for whiplash.
- Car accident- Rear end collision is the most common cause of whiplash. But, front and side collision can also lead to whiplash neck strain.
- Contact sports â€“ Sports like football, rugby and others.
- Physical abuse â€“ Whiplash can occur in physical assault incidents like being punched and shaken baby syndrome.
It may take several days for symptoms to appear after an injury.
- Pain in the neck. Pain may radiate to the cervical area, shoulder and down the arms.
- Neck stiffness
- Headache. Most common at the base of skull, which radiates to the forehead.
- Symptoms of concussion. Dizziness, blurred vision, pain on swallowing, unusual sensation over fascial skin. These symptoms require for immediate doctor consultation.
- Feeling of tiredness, irritation, difficulty to concentrate, excessive sleepy and unconsciousness.
- History and physical examination â€“ The physiotherapist or chiropractor will usually be able to diagnose a whiplash neck injury from the description of the accident, the typical symptoms and by examining you. Examination includes checking the neck and shoulder range of motion, palpation of facet joints in the neck, muscle strength, sensation over face and limbs, and reflexes.
- X-ray of skull and neck- Fracture of any cervical vertebra or skull can be ruled out with x-rays in the anterior-posterior and lateral views.
- CT scan and MRI â€“ These tests help to diagnose soft tissue injury or any brain/spinal cord damage.
Treatment of Whiplash injury is simple and often resolves completely.
- Physiotherapy- Physical therapy plays a vital role in treating whiplash injury. Posture correction, flexibility and strengthening exercises for specific muscle group helps for a speedy recovery. Massage therapy over para spinal cervical muscles helps in relaxing the muscles of the neck. Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS) may help reduce pain.
- Chiropractic therapy â€“ Chiropractic treatment has been shown to be very successful in treating whiplash injuries. The chiropractor will use techniques such as cervical mobilizations, manipulation, traction, and soft tissue techniques to relieve the neck pain.
- Cryotherapy â€“ Application of ice for at least 20 minutes twice or three times a day in an acute stage i.e. first 2-3 days helps in pain relief.
- Hot pack- Once acute stage subsides, application of hot packs or moist heat helps in reducing muscle spasms and relax the muscles and soft tissues.
- Collar- Foam collar are given to keep the neck stable. However, they must be worn for only 10-15 days after the injury otherwise they may weaken the muscles if worn for prolong periods.
- Over the counter pain medications- Non-steroidal anti inflammation drugs like aspirin, naproxen helps to alleviate pain and swelling.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury from a car accident donâ€™t hesitate to contact P&C Rehabilitation Services for your free assessment. If you have been involved in a car accident you are entitled to receive physical therapy whether the accident was your fault or not. The insurance company covers the cost of therapy. All the health professionals at P&C Rehabilitation Services have vast experience treating whiplash injuries. We have been serving the community of Jane and Finch and North York for 6 years. Call today and get rid of your neck pain.