Whiplash is a common injury that involves the sudden backward and then forward motion of the neck which may damage both the bone structures and the soft tissue. The extreme motions involved push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion. It is not typically a life threatening injury but it may lead to partial disability and ranges from mild to severe. Women are more likely to experience whiplash than men are, possibly due to their necks usually not being as strong as those of men.
The most common cause of whiplash is by a motor vehicle accident, usually a rear-end collision, where the car the person is riding in is stopped and is then struck by a vehicle from behind. This impact forces the neck into hyperextension as the seat pushes forward and then is thrown into hyper-flexion as it recovers. Other causes include contact sports such as football tackles, and even physical abuse from being punched or shaken.
Symptoms involved include:
- Neck pain/stiffness
- Shoulder/arm pain/stiffness
- Jaw pain
- Arm weakness
- Visual disturbances
- Ringing in the ears
- Back pain
In some severe cases symptoms may also include depression, anger, sleep disturbance, litigation, stress, drug dependency, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. You should call your doctor immediately if the pain spreads to your shoulders or arms, if it becomes painful to move your head, or you experience numbness, tingling or weakness in your arms.
Initially treatment for whiplash has involved using a soft cervical collar which is used to reduce the range of motion of the neck and prevent additional injuries. However with prolonged immobilization the healing process may slow and prevent further recovery due to muscle atrophy and decreased blood flow to damaged muscles. Those who participate in early range of motion exercises have shown to have a more reliable and rapid improvement in their symptoms. Physical therapy is very useful to help strengthen the muscles involved as well as reduce painful motions by using therapeutic exercises, modalities such as ice or heat, and manual therapy including massage and passive stretching.
We treat patients with whiplash in the 34711 area!