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What is whiplash?

The term 'whiplash' refers to the injury and associated disability that can result from sudden acceleration forces on the neck. Whiplash commonly occurs as the result of a vehicle accident, such as a read end collision, but can also occur during sport and other activities which may involve sudden forces on the neck.

What causes the pain with a whiplash injury?

The cervical spine (the spine in your neck) relies much more on the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues for stability than the rest of the spine. This allows for a much greater range of movement than the rest of your spine, but at the expense of stability. When a whiplash injury occurs, the structures in your spine are pushed beyond their normal range of movement, and may suffer damage. These structures can be very sensitive to pain, and this pain can often persist for weeks to months after the initial injury.

What is the treatment for whiplash?

Whiplash can be a complex injury and many factors need to be taken into account to ensure effective treatment. An x-ray will usually be done to determine whether there is any damage to the vertebrae or discs in the neck. Other scans such as an MRI may also be performed to more specifically view the soft tissues in the neck, but due to the small size and sensitivity of these soft tissues, scans may not always be able to find the specific source of your pain. This can be frustrating and is usually indicative of a strong muscle component to your condition. This type of pain is commonly referred to as myofascial pain which can be a part of your headaches, neck pain, etc. If this is the case it is important to target your whiplash in specific ways to achieve best outcomes because the longer pain persists, the increased risk of neuroplasticity factors meaning that symptoms can hang around for a long time.

A thorough history of your symptoms and assessment of your neck will be done by your physiotherapist to determine the best treatment approach. Specific treatment may involve mobilisation, soft tissue release, stretching, muscle re-training and strengthening. It is essential that your therapist explain your condition to you in detail so you have a clear understanding. Then it will be important they start to empower you with recovery strategies to use in conjunction with your hands on treatment. In this way you get the best results and also have a new set of skills to look after your neck and ease tension for life.

If you, a friend or family member would like to know more about the treatment options available for whiplash, please don't hesitate to contact us on 07 3847 8040 or inquire online here.