What is a Whiplash Injury?
A whiplash injury is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident, typically rear-ending collisions, where sudden deceleration or acceleration of the vehicle causes your neck to fling backwards and then forwards in an aggressive and sudden manner. This sudden movement is called a whiplash, and may cause injuries to your neck muscles, ligaments, joints and bones, and potentially fractures.
This can lead to neck and back pain, stiffness, headaches, and other related symptoms. As the neck is a sensitive area with blood vessels and nerves, a whiplash injury can also cause neurological symptoms, such as visual disturbances, dizziness or vertigo. Ligaments (rubber band-like structures that hold your bones together) may be strained or stretched. As a result they cannot provide adequate stability to your cervical spine.Therefore your body’s natural response is to tighten up your neck muscles to try to protect and stabilise the spine.
The prognosis of whiplash injuries is highly variable depending on the severity of the injury and other contributing factors. Oftentimes whiplash injuries and can be effectively treated with a few physiotherapy sessions. Sometimes symptoms and complications can persist even after the typical timeframe of tissue healing.
Do I need to get an X-ray scan?
A scan is not a necessity. If you have already done a scan, please bring them in along with the report. If you have not received a scan, please still come in for assessment and treatment. Even without a scan, our physiotherapists can help with pain management and restoration movement in a safe manner. If from assessment, our physiotherapists suspect a potential fracture, we may then refer you to the GP for a scan.
Treatment for whiplash injury is based on the patient’s individual presentation. A My Physio My Health physiotherapist will take your history and conduct physical examinations to guide the treatment plan. Typically, we can use a range of manual therapies or modalities to treat muscular dysfunctions and pain. We also use joint mobilisations to restore mobility and function of the spine. There are also techniques to treat neurological conditions such as dizziness and vertigo if they are present. Tailored stretching, postural correction and strengthening exercises of the neck and back are an important part of your recovery process to achieve sustainable improvements.
If you suspect of having had a whiplash injury, please book an appointment at our Holden Hill or Lightsview clinic.