Condition in Review: Whiplash

Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by sudden distortion and extension. Injury may be to the cervical vertebrae or their associated ligaments and muscles.

Whiplash is often associated with vehicle accidents especially when hit from the rear. However, whiplash can also be caused by falls, sports accidents or being hit, kicked or shaken. It is the result of a violent back and forth movement of the head and neck, most commonly occurs in a rear end vehicle collision, damaging the cervical vertebrae and/or associated tissues. Whiplash is usually confined to the spine from the neck to the mid-back.

Symptoms can appear directly after injury but often are not felt until the days following. Pain and aching in the neck and back, referred pain to the shoulders, pins and needles in the arms, dizziness, headaches and occasionally nausea.

Victims of suspected whiplash should be referred to a GP for a medical imaging and examination to rule out any possible bone fractures and any other serious injury.

Whiplash should be treated as a sprain/strain injury therefore no heat should be applied to the area for the first 12 to 72 hours. During this timepiece can be applied to slow the spread of injury and inflammation. A cervical collar may be needed during the first 3 days while sleeping or for no more than 3 hours at a time during the day.

Massage can be applied after the first 72 hours and when more serious injury or fractures have been ruled out.

Sternocleidomastoid trigger points & pain referral

Massage will help increase blood and oxygen flow to the injured site, speeding up the healing process. Massage also reduces tension, eliminates trigger points and increases range of motion.  Pain and symptoms of dizziness can be eased with massage. Cupping therapy also helps release muscle and fascia tension and draws oxygen rich blood to the area.

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