One thing is certain…if Whiplash is left untreated it will come back to haunt you! Ever suffered with Whiplash? Maybe as a result of a car accident or a blow to the head during sport or even a fall where your head jolts suddenly? Whiplash is an injury to the ligaments and tendons in the neck when it is moved forwards, backwards or sideways, or a combination of all, at quick speed.
Many people don’t even realise that they may be experiencing discomfort associated with whiplash, with symptoms ranging from neck pain, stiffness, soreness, tenderness, headaches and reduced ability to move the neck. Surprisingly, lots of people even need reminding that they have been involved in a minor accident and that whiplash could be a result.
It doesn’t take a lot of force to be subjected to whiplash. Car accidents at speeds of as little as 5-10 mph can result in whiplash injuries.
Mild blows to the head during sporting activities such as football, rugby, gymnastics, skiing and snowboarding can happen anytime with whiplash as the outcome. Don’t ignore the symptoms. Commonly with whiplash, the symptoms don’t prevail straight away. It could be days or in fact weeks before you start to feel discomfort.
Look out for one or more of the following symptoms:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
- Lower back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
- Ringing in the ears or blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue
Whiplash injuries normally cannot be seen on standard X-rays. The diagnosis is usually made from a detailed description of the circumstances and the symptoms. A skilled Therapist will assess your range of movement and note any associated pain. Massage and mobilisation can be administered to treat the injured area but usually not within 3-5 days from the initial trauma.
Ice your neck to reduce pain and swelling as soon as you can after the injury. Ice for approximately for 20 minutes every few hours for the first 2-3 days after injury occurrence. Heat packs can be applied, but only after 2-3 days of icing first and only when the swelling has gone down.
Every case of whiplash is different with varying degrees of severity, both of which will affect the healing time. There’s some evidence that the average recovery time for a whiplash injury is 32 days. However, in around 12% of cases of chronic whiplash, clients do not recover within 6 months. This statistic highlights the need for regular and ongoing treatment intervention post-injury. Light massage initially is recommended and mild stretches will be prescribed. With further treatment, and once range of movement returns, exercises are advised in order to strengthen the upper back and neck to help prevent similar strains occurring in the future.
It is advised to get back into sporting activity gradually so the neck muscles are not overworked too soon after injury. We recommend you only return to your usual level of physical activity once a full range of movement around your neck has returned.
And a word of warning…Resting is the worst thing you can do. Resting can cause the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back to get stiff and weaken and this could actually prolong the healing process, cause you more pain and delay your recovery.