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Whiplash Related Neck Pain

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Neck pain/stiffness post trauma – e.g Motor Vehicle Accident
  • Associated headaches, sensation issues, visual disturbance, weakness and/or dizziness

What causes it?

Whiplash generally results from a traumatic event involving sudden acceleration-deceleration forces. While whiplash is synonymous with a motor vehicle accident, other potential causes may include rollercoasters, bungy jumping or a sports-related collision.

What is happening with the body?

The pathophysiology underpinning this disorder is still not fully understood and many theories exist. Some of the symptoms are thought to be caused by injury to the following structures:

  • Cervical Spine Facet Joint Capsule
  • The facet joints
  • Spinal ligaments
  • Nerve roots
  • Intervertebral discs
  • Cartilage
  • Paraspinal muscles causing spasms
  • Intraarticular meniscus

What can you try at home?

  • Continuing your regular daily routine: Acting Normal!
  • Medication to assist your pain, muscle tension or to help you psychologically.
  • Psychologist advice post trauma if necessary
  • Heat
  • Movement
  • Focus on posture when sitting for prolonged periods

How can physiotherapy help?

  • Thorough Assessment and Education on the injury: please ask questions!
  • Education on what to do to help your pain – exercises to normalise your range of motion
  • Release of the tight muscles/joints/reduce sensitivity using massage, joint mobilisations and/or dry needling
  • Fine neck muscle and proprioception retraining programs guided by a physiotherapist – this improves your neck proprioception, fine motor control and balance
  • Exercise program to help strengthen surrounding muscles