What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe the injuries that occur to the neck in a rapid acceleration – deceleration type of injury.  Whiplash presents as a complaint of neck pain, stiffness or tenderness and decreased range of motion.  This condition is most often associated with car accidents and specifically rear end collisions, although any forceful blow to the head or body can cause whiplash.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Most people who suffer from a whiplash type injury don’t begin to feel pain and discomfort until a number of hours after the accident or trauma.  Neck pain is to be expected but symptoms of a whiplash type injury can include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Heachaches
  • Shoulder and back pain
  • Dizziness and trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, sleep disturbances and fatigue

The rapid acceleration – deceleration forces that cause whiplash can also cause concussions.  In fact, we commonly see the symptoms of concussion closely associated with a whiplash injury.

How does Physiotherapy help Whiplash?

Treatment of whiplash is no longer the immobilization collar you might have seen on television or in the movies.  Today your physiotherapist will help to get you moving as soon as possible with gentle exercises.  Early and active intervention are shown to have a much better outcome.  Treatment in cooperation with your family physician may also include pain relief medications of the NSAID variety, heat, icing, traction or ultrasound.  Different patients respond differently to treatment and what works for your neighbor may not work for you.