What is Whiplash: Symptoms and Treatment

carOften times we get patients coming into our clinic after an auto accident who are complaining of neck pain and upper back pain. Sometimes, they are also complaining of headaches. I wanted to review some of the most relevant questions my patients might have when dealing with pain after an auto accident. Some of these questions include, what is whiplash? What are the symptoms of whiplash? And, what is the treatment for whiplash?

First, I will address question one; what is whiplash? Whiplash is a general term used to describe a sudden strain to the muscles, tendons, bones and nerves of the neck that occur from a sequence of movements in the neck. These quick movements can be described as the initial position, retraction, extension and rebound. This often occurs in a motor vehicle accident when an automobile has been rear-ended. Although whiplash is a non-fatal injury, it can be painful and debilitating. A person can get whiplash even at fifteen miles per hour or less. Often times it is the sudden jarring that occurs when one vehicle hits another that causes the head to be abruptly thrown forward, back and sideways. The more sudden the impact, the higher the possibility of muscles, discs, tendons and bones being damaged during the incident.

Second; what are the symptoms of whiplash? Most patients who suffer from a whiplash injury report pain and aching in the neck and mid to upper back. Some of the pain is referred out to the shoulders, and sometimes they have other symptoms such as a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the arms and hands, and sometimes it can also occur in the legs and feet. One other symptom patients can suffer from is headaches. All of these symptoms of whiplash can appear at the time of the injury, but most times they are not felt until a few days after.

Lastly; what is the treatment for whiplash? Both physical therapists and chiropractors can treat patients suffering from whiplash. The patient can be experiencing varying degrees of pain that can be decreased with soft tissue mobilization, manipulation, cervical traction, manual therapy or massage therapy, electrical stimulation and heat treatments. A more active form of treatment such as active range of motion, postural exercises and activities of daily living should be implemented to quickly and safely return the patient to a more normal status.

If you or a loved one has been in a motor vehicle accident and could be suffering from whiplash and would like to know about our treatment for whiplash, please give our office a call. We would be happy to help you navigate and recover from your injury.

For more information on our physical therapists, chiropractor or our Motor Vehicle Accident Program, call 602-569-5656 or Contact us online.

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