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Whiplash is the term used to describe a person’s head suddenly jerking backward and then quickly forward with a high degree of force. It is a common injury in rear-end collisions but can also occur due to other causes. These include:
- Injuries from contact sports
- Falls when the head jerks backward violently
- Other types of car accidents
- Physical assault
- Bike riding accidents
- Horseback riding accidents
In a whiplash situation, the ligaments and muscle of the neck become stretched past their normal range of motion. Although some medical professionals view whiplash as a minor condition, it can cause lasting pain for months or even years.
Common Whiplash Symptoms
Like all types of injuries, whiplash has symptoms that are common and not as common. Those that belong in the first category include blurred vision, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and pain and stiffness in the neck. Symptoms that happen less frequently include ringing in the ears, concentration difficulties, irritability, lack of restful sleep, and chronic neck, back, or shoulder pain.
Physical Therapy for Whiplash
Working with a physical therapist can help you recover faster from whiplash. He or she will likely assign you both passive and active therapies to motivate your progress. Passive treatment means that you simply receive and not actively participate in the activity. Deep tissue massage is a prime example of passive therapy. The goal is to apply friction and pressure to your sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons to promote healing. Hot and cold therapies can affect blood flow and reduce inflammation. These are also examples of passive therapy.
Active types of physical therapy include range of motion and strength exercises based on your health, medical history, and treatment goals. It should be highly personalized. The longer you participate in physical therapy, the less neck pain and muscle spasms you can expect.
When you see a regular medical doctor after developing whiplash, all he or she can normally do is prescribe medication. This may have no benefit on your body’s soft tissues. A chiropractor, on the other hand, understands the entire human musculoskeletal system.
He or she facilitates healing through adjust the cervical spine by hand or with special instruments. Chiropractic care following auto accidents encourages self-healing because it releases endorphins that cause pain and decreases inflammation throughout the body.
Patients can typically receive deep tissue massage from a chiropractor or a physical therapist. The latter usually offers cranial sacral therapy, trigger point massage, and deep muscle therapy as well. Cranial sacral therapy is most effective on neck injuries and headaches because it’s very gentle. The second type of therapy focuses on applying firm pressure to the affected areas such as the neck and shoulders. Receiving therapy at the deep muscle level is also effective for persistent neck and back pain resulting from whiplash.
People suffering from whiplash may also want to try some home remedies such as taking non-prescription pain relief and applying heat or cold to the affected areas of the body. Those who saw a doctor or chiropractor right away will likely wear a stiff foam collar at home for up to three consecutive hours. The presents the neck from turning and causing additional injuries.