Whiplash-How to Treat it
Whiplash is a relatively common neck injury. Whiplash is caused by an impact to your neck that causes it to whip back and forth. It is most often associated with motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), specifically, rear-end collisions. The symptoms and severity differ from person to person. Right after impact, patients may not even be aware of any neck swelling or bruising. In general symptoms usually, appear between 12 and 24 hours after the accident.
Causes of Whiplash
While the majority of whiplash injuries are from motor vehicle accidents, there are other causes with a strong enough impact to cause injury:
- Contact sports (hockey, football, rugby)
- Roller-coasters and amusement park rides
- A horse-back riding or cycling accident
- A fall which causes the head to jolt backwards abruptly
- The direct impact of large or heavy object on the head
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash will show presents as neck pain, stiffness or tenderness and decreased range of motion. The following symptoms are present with neck injury:
- Neck and back pain and aches
- Neck stiffness and decreased range of motion
- Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Jaw pain
- Arm pain and weakness
- Sensory disturbances, such as pins and needles
You should seek help from your physician or a physiotherapist if the pain spreads to your shoulders and/or arms; if it becomes painful and difficult to move your head; if you experience numbness, tingling or weakness; or if the pain is severe. Your symptoms can be improved with proper medical advice and physiotherapy.
What are the treatment options for whiplash? Evidence supports various treatment approaches. Your best treatment direction should be guided by an expert in the rehabilitation such as a physiotherapist or physician. With this in mind, you should choose a practitioner who has experience treating whiplash caused by motor vehicle accidents.
- Ice- Put on on your neck, this will help reduce pain and swelling.
- Use a neck brace or support if your doctor recommends it.
- Pain medications (over-the-counter or prescription).
- Limit activities such as sports or heavy lifting.
- Limit the motion of your neck and head as much as possible.
- Other modalities such as massage or acupuncture.
Your whiplash will get better. However, whiplash injuries can take a few days to a few months to rehabilitate. Research shows the large majority of whiplash sufferers recover with actively guided treatment. We recommend that you consult your doctor or physiotherapist before you begin treatment.
Give us a call at 403-200-2190 to speak with one of our qualified physiotherapists regarding your whiplash injury.