What is a Whiplash?
You probably never heard of this injury, but it’s one of the most frequent ones when it comes to neck injuries. It occurs when the human body is suddenly exposed to a jerk and the head of the victim is “rocked” forth and back and forth. This injury is most common in motor-vehicle accidents, especially those that involve rear-end collision. Due to this sudden “whipping” the muscles and ligaments of the neck are strained beyond their natural reach.
Other whiplash causes involve any sudden jerks caused by sports injuries during football matches, boxing or other close contact activities. Even roller-coasters can cause it!
Depending on the severity of the shock, symptoms can occur immediately or a few days after. The most common are stiffness and inflamation of the neck and of the back of the head. If the whiplash is more severe stiffness and partial paraesthesia can radiate towards the victims chest, shoulders and arms.
Symptoms can last from a few days to a few months and even years!
Apply ice bags for the first 24-48 hours after the incident. It’s best to wrap the ice in a towel and not to apply it directly on your skin.
Take over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Lay down on a bed with a firm mattress. Don’t use a pillow or if you do, make sure that it’s use a special one with neck support. Apply ice in sessions of 15-20 minutes with half and hour of break in between.
Whiplash is almost always treated at home. If shock was severe a doctor should check the patient for spine fracture or any other dislocation. If the victim is diagnosed with a mild whiplash, treatment consists in massage sessions and neck exercises for regaining mobility and neck strength.
In severe cases a whiplash syndrome can be developed. That’s occasional re-occurrence of initial whiplash symptoms. There is no special treatment available for it, besides extra care for prevention of any additional neck trauma.
Whiplash Recovery Exercise
Patients tend to recover faster and better from a whiplash the sooner they resume their normal activity. Those that wear a protective neck collar end up recovering much more slowly from this injury.
Exercising can start as soon as the 3rd day after injury. Patients should begin with slow motion range exercises and gradually stretch their neck muscles, with up and down neck movements, followed by side to side and ear to ear moves.
As neck mobility is gradually regained more complex stretching exercises can be introduced.
It’s important for the recovery to maintain a good posture at your office and even while reading or using your smartphone!