This week I will discuss the symptoms and treatment associated with a Whiplash injury. A Whiplash injury occurs during a car accident when the patient’s car has been rear or side-ended by another vehicle causing strain to the ligaments, and muscles of the neck. Indeed the cervical disc and nerves can be injured also. Examination by your Doctor and an x-ray to rule out a cervical fracture are essentials after a car accident. Below is an example of the symptoms of Whiplash grade 1-2 injury and the appropriate treatment plan.
Whiplash Pain History and Symptoms
Constant neck pain and stiffness that is increased by turning the head to either side.
Driving aggravates neck pain
Neck pain can become severe
Woken at night due to neck pain
Patient is suffering from a vague headache since the car accident
Lying down on your back with a pillow underneath your head helps ease the pain
Movements such as walking and getting dressed are done in a cautious & restricted manner
This Whiplash injury can be classified as either a grade 1-2 Whiplash injury; a grade 3 whiplash injury would include shooting nerve pain down the shoulder and into the hand. The structures that could possibly be damaged include a locking of the cervical facet joint, cervical disc, ligament strain, muscle strain and nerve impingement. In this example, we can conclude that an inflammatory reaction from all or any of the aforementioned damaged structures is causing the pain.
Very important that the patient undergo x-ray examination of the cervical spine post car accident. The x-ray will help rule out a cervical fracture which can occur during a whiplash injury.
Application of ice to help reduce inflammation
To attend your Doctor for anti-inflammatory & Pain relief medication.
Rest straight away from pain aggravating activities such as Driving, and lifting activities.
Work posture that involves constant sitting and using a computer need to be avoided.
Short walking exercises can be more beneficial than periods of static sitting
Assume the pain relief position of lying down on your back using one pillow only
7 days after the accident, the Physical therapist can commence treatment in the form of active neck movement in the limited pain free range. This is important in order to achieve the goal of full pain free movement and control of the neck. Light strengthening contractions of the neck muscles should commence also. After 21 days, the Physical therapist will then begin applying graded manual mobilisations to free encourage pain movement.
Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy and is based in Thurles.
Contact Number: 0504 26672
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Injury Solutions Clinic
Physiotherapy & Injury Rehabilitation Clinic in Tipperary