04 May Osteopathy for whiplash
Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs with the forceful, rapid back and forth movement of the neck. Although whiplash is an acute injury, the impact can damage the neck bones and soft tissue and lead to a variety of clinical conditions, known as whiplash associated disorders (WAD) which include motor, sensory, neurological, and psychological impairments. Whiplash is typically caused by motor vehicle accidents, injuries caused by contact sports, accidental falls, trauma and assault. Typically, cases of whiplash can get better within a few weeks when following the correct treatment plan. However, severe cases can result in chronic neck pain or disability.
When you are in an accident that causes whiplash, the excessive force and motion exerted on the neck can damage its ligaments, muscles and joints, as well as overstretch the nerves, which can result in the following symptoms, which can either appear immediately, or gradually overtime (anywhere from a few days to months). Symptoms of a whiplash injury are rarely isolated only to the neck region; they can be experienced anywhere throughout the body. These symptoms include:
- Neck sprains and strains
- Upper back, shoulder and neck pain.
- Stiffness in the neck
- Tight and tender muscles.
- A decreased range of motion
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Blurred vision.
- Lower back pain
- Arm pain
- Leg pain
Minor and severe whiplash injuries are distinguished by a specific grading criterion that evaluates the severity of WAD symptoms. There are five grades, increasing in severity as described below:
- Grade 0: no neck pain, stiffness, or any physical signs of the injury.
- Grade 1: there is neck pain, stiffness or tenderness only, no other physical signs of injury present.
- Grade 2: there is neck pain, stiffness, and tenderness along with a decreased range of motion in the neck.
- Grade 3: there is neck pain, stiffness and tenderness, as well as neurological signs of decreased deep tendon reflexes, weakness and sensory deficits.
- Grade 4: there is neck pain, stiffness and tenderness, in addition to fractured or dislocated neck and/or injury to the spinal cord.
Recovering from whiplash can be immediate, however, many patients may suffer chronic pain or other complaints that can last months or even years. This is due to WAD that hinder and prolong the recovery process.
Osteopathy for whiplash is aimed at reducing the pain and inflammation experienced as well as restoring the body to its optimal function and mobility.
After performing a thorough head and neck exam to diagnose the severity of your whiplash, the osteopath will advise you on the appropriate treatment plan to aid your recovery.
The treatment for whiplash may include:
- Gentle Tissue Massage – using direct pressure and friction to try to release the tension in your soft tissues.
- Hot Therapy uses heat to increase the blood flow to the targeted area which will increase the amount of oxygen and nutrients in that area. Blood is also needed to remove waste by-products created by muscle spasms, which will also aid the healing process.
- Joint mobilisationis used to loosen stiff joints and increase its mobility and function.
- Exercise is needed to increase the body’s flexibility and strength, as well as to improve an postural irregularities.
- Myofascial releasemay also be used for pain relief.
At OsteoVision, we are able to treat a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions. Our team of specialists are always available to assist you and offer advice. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your symptoms, would like to book an appointment or require more information about your condition.
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Chaffey, J., 2012. Whiplash osteopath. [online] Bodybalance.co.uk. Available at: <https://www.bodybalance.co.uk/conditions/neck_pain/whiplash.php> [Accessed 31 October 2021].
Evans, M., 2020. Whiplash – Signs and Symptoms – East Gippsland Osteopathic Clinic. [online] East Gippsland Osteopathic Clinic. Available at: <https://eastgippslandosteopathy.com.au/2020/06/whiplash-signs-and-symptoms/> [Accessed 31 October 2021].
Mayo Clinic. 2020. Whiplash – Symptoms and causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/whiplash/symptoms-causes/syc-20378921> [Accessed 31 October 2021].
Middle Park Osteopathic Clinic. 2020. Can Osteopathy help with whiplash? – Middle Park Osteopathic Clinic. [online] Available at: <http://middleparkosteopathicclinic.com.au/can-osteopathy-help-with-whiplash/> [Accessed 31 October 2021].