Whiplash Prevention and Recovery
Whiplash is a commonly occurring injury, usually associated with car accidents or sports injuries. It is caused by a high impact to the neck from behind while in a stationary position that causes the soft tissues in your neck to stretch well beyond their normal range of motion.
The standard result of whiplash is severe neck pain or neck stiffness. However, because different people have different reactions to whiplash, the severity of the condition may differ significantly.
The effects of whiplash can be experienced immediately or the symptoms could take a few days to appear. This makes it a complicated condition to detect so oftentimes it is ignored by most patients.
Neglecting the signs of whiplash can be harmful to your neck and spine. If you have been involved in a car accident, or any incident in which your neck experiences an impact or sudden jerk, you should seek the advice of a medical professional to determine if whiplash has occurred.
If it has, physical therapy, which involves kinesio taping, massage, and physiotherapy, is an effective recovery tool to ensure that your neck and spine are properly healed following a whiplash incident.
Whiplash signs and symptoms
Whiplash is typically hard to discover because the symptoms usually only start to appear a few days after the incident that triggers it. It is hardly a life-threatening injury but, if left untreated, can result in extended periods of physical disability.
The signs of whiplash are as common as the condition itself. This is why whiplash symptoms are often ignored by patients and attributed to other causes.
Common symptoms of whiplash
Common symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Jaw pain
- Arm pain and weakness
- Visual disturbances
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Back pain
Severe symptoms of whiplash
In severe and chronic cases of whiplash, symptoms may include:
- Drug dependency
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome
While it is near impossible to prevent unsuspecting forces from impacting the back of your head and causing whiplash, there are measures you can take to protect your neck and back from developing this condition.
Adjust the headrest on your car seat
When you sit in a car, how often do you adjust the headrest? Studies have shown that only 14% of Canadians adjust their headrest to an appropriate position.
When driving, you never know when you may have to apply the brakes quickly and forcibly. A sudden stop is one of the major reasons why whiplash occurs.
To avoid this, you can start your journey with a well-adjusted headrest. This will help to support your neck in case of any kind of jerking.
Wear your seat belt
Another major safety measure that you should practice habitually is the use of a seat belt. Seat belts are specifically designed to provide maximum safety to the driver.
The shoulder and waist strap of a seat belt provides complete support during a sudden jerk, thereby minimizing the impact.
Drive safe and slow
The simplest way to avoid whiplash is to drive safely and slowly. Often, whiplash occurs when a driver is speeding and needs to stop the vehicle instantly.
However, whiplash can occur when impacted from the rear, so keeping an eye out for vehicles approaching from behind and being aware of their presence may be enough to brace for a potential impact.
The most widely practiced and effective whiplash treatment is physical therapy. Physiotherapy for whiplash is one of the best options as it helps to restore mobility in your neck.
This therapy includes a range of massage therapy, physical therapy, at-home remedies, and kinesio taping. By opting for this treatment, you can recover quickly and get back to your daily life.
Kinesio taping can help to significantly reduce the recovery period of whiplash. It is a simple method of using kinesio tape to facilitate healing of the neck.
In the first phase of kinesio taping, two fan strips are applied over the injured area in a crisscross pattern to encourage lymphatic correction and reduce swelling.
After the initial phase of taping, a Y strip and an I strip are used for ligament correction.
Kinesio taping is a simple procedure that can be easily applied by a licensed physiotherapist to help the whiplash injury heal quickly and with reduced pain.
Physiotherapists use a combination of physical therapies and exercises to help relieve the symptoms of whiplash. Some exercises include:
- Neck Bend: Stretch out your shoulder blades and move your chin to your chest and back to the normal position again.
- Neck Turn: Turn your neck slowly to the right until you feel the pull in your neck muscles. Bring your neck back to the normal position. Repeat on the left side.
- Upper Back Twist: Sit upright and turn your torso to one side until you feel the pull in your muscles. Repeat on the other side.
- Neck Extension: Sit up straight and slowly bend your neck backward as you look up towards the ceiling. Repeat until you feel the stretch along the front of your neck.
- Isometrics: Place your palm on your forehead and press your head against it without bending your neck. Hold for a few seconds then relax.
These are a few exercises often prescribed to patients suffering from whiplash injuries. To learn more about how to perform these exercises correctly, get in touch with our experts at InHome Physical Therapy and Massage.
Massage for whiplash is used to reduce pain as well as increase blood circulation. The increased blood flow carries vital nutrients to your neck and shoulder muscles in order to promote recovery. Massage therapy not only helps your muscles relax but also assists your body in circulating blood quicker to all parts of your body.
Massage therapy can also help prevent cervical spine injuries. Studies have shown that whiplash and cervical hyperextension injuries are closely related. The sudden jerks that cause whiplash also lead to hyperextension and hyperflexion.
You can also aid in your own recovery by using at-home remedies to treat whiplash.
The most common method to reduce whiplash pain is to apply an ice pack to the back of your neck. Ice helps in reducing the pain as well as the swelling and inflammation.
Over the counter painkillers can help in subsiding whiplash pain. This measure is only temporary and does not eliminate the damage caused by whiplash.
Adequate physiotherapy for whiplash injury
In the event that you have suffered a whiplash injury, there is suitable physiotherapy that will help you recover from your injury and get back to your day-to-day living.
Our professional physiotherapists at InHome Physical Therapy and Massage are ready to help get you back on your feet by offering our services in the comfort of your own home. We are proud to serve both Edmonton and Calgary.
Contact us today for more information about whiplash recovery.