Whiplash is a pain in the neck! Whiplash is the result of rapid neck acceleration-deceleration, most commonly, but not limited to, when a motor vehicle collides with another vehicle or an other stationary object. It usually affects the neck and upper mid back causing limited movement, pain and discomfort, numbness and tingling and weakness in the arms and hands.
Causes of whiplash
Whiplash is not a specific medical condition. It is a generic term we use for a range of neck and head injuries. These injuries are the result of acceleration-deceleration of the neck so sudden that the head does not immediately follow. Typical examples are:
- A stationary vehicle is hit at high speed from behind. The occupants are thrown forward at great speed, their snapping back.
- A speeding vehicle hits another vehicle at great speed, throwing the occupants’ heads and bodies forward at different speeds.
- A hockey player checks another player at high speed. One or both of them could get whiplash.
- Bungee jumping where you are falling at such high speeds and suddenly come to your end range and then stop and whipped in the other direction.
Symptoms of whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash might be immediate, or they might take hours or even days to be felt.
The most obvious symptom of whiplash is pain. Along with pain usually comes a tightness in the neck and a decreased range of motion. This can result in reduced mobility such as looking over one’s shoulder when driving or turning your neck.
The head can also be affected, with pain shooting forth from the base of the skull and reaching up to the forehead. In some cases, the blow to the neck can actually cause a concussion.
The symptoms usually last about 8 – 12 weeks. Treatment can help reduce the pain and symptoms and speed the recovery. However, more severe cases might not heal in those timelines.
Whiplash associated disorder (WAD) is classified on a scale of 1 – 4 in Ontario, based on the settings established by the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash Associated Disorders.
WAD 1(I) – neck complaints of pain, stiffness or tenderness only but no physical signs are noted.
WAD 2(II) – neck complaints, decreased range of motion, and point tenderness in the neck
WAD 3(III)- neck complaints plus neurological signs such as decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
WAD 4(IV) – neck complaints and fracture or dislocation, or injury to the spinal cord.
We mostly see WAD 1-3 cases present to our clinic and will treat patients post surgery from WAD 4,
Prevention of whiplash
There is a lot you can do to reduce your risk of whiplash. How you are placed in a vehicle makes a big difference. Mare sure always to:
Wear your seat belt.
Sit straight in your seat.
Position your headrest even with your head. Ideally, your head should rest against it and the top of your headrest should be higher than your ears.
Driving carefully is the other way to reduce the risk of whiplash. That means:
Being patient on the road
Ensuring the car is well-maintained
And following dozens of other safe driving tips
Ultimately, there is nothing you can do if another car loses control and hits you.
Treatment of whiplash
The longer the pain lasts, however, the less likely it will heal itself. If a week passes without improvement, you might need professional help.
Whiplash treatment is aimed first and foremost to help you heal by restoring the proper function of your neck and restoing tissue health. But it can also help reduce the pain in the meantime. It also helps restore movement and function by reducing inflammation and scar tissue in your muscles and ligaments.
Treatment might include:
- Hands on manual soft tissue work and exercise
- Joint mobilzation
- electrical stimulation
- Maintaining frequent gentle movements of the neck
Our skilled team of professional Ottawa physiotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapits will take the time to assess the extent of your injuries and how best to treat your whiplash
Treat your whiplash now!
We can help you feel better, sooner. Contact Apollo today for friendly, gentle and effective whiplash treatment.