Whiplash is an acceleration-deceleration injury of the neck. The result is damage to the muscles, joints, ligaments, bones and/or normal coordination of the neck. It can cause pain, stiffness and a variety of other clinical manifestations. So, why is it now so common and what can we do about it?
What causes whiplash?
Whiplash occurs primarily due to car accidents. Any sudden impact launches the head forwards or backwards relative to the torso which is held back by the seat belt. While this is an improvement on collisions launching motorists through their windscreens, it is quite harmful to the neck.
Whiplash is also quite common in contact sports like the rugby codes and martial arts. Contact to the head or chest exerts powerful forces on the neck causing whiplash injuries.
What is the best treatment for whiplash?
Treatment will depend on the grade of whiplash so it’s important to get your pain diagnosed. The rare high-grade injuries with fractures or numbness require emergency imaging and medical care.The more common lower-grades of whiplash can benefit from chiropractic treatment. Treatment will typically involve providing adjustments to the thoracic spine (upper back), gentle massage and strengthening exercises.
Perhaps the most important thing to note is that sufferers of a grade 1 or 2 whiplash are encouraged to continue their usual physical activities. Inactivity encourages lingering pain and stiffness but returning to usual daily activities promotes a healthy recovery.
Whiplash is a common neck injury but if handled properly doesn’t need to cause ongoing pain.
Scott Leabeater is The Backstory Chiropractic’s Principal Chiropractor. Scott uses up to date research literature to guide an evidence based approach to diagnosis and treatment. His unique professionalism and knowledge has made Scott highly sought after. Throughout his career he has treated everyone from local office workers to Olympic athletes. Scott is an AHPRA registered Chiropractor and member of Chiropractic Australia.