We’ve all likely heard of whiplash before. However, if you’ve never actually experienced this type of injury, you can never truly appreciate the pain and length of rehabilitation that can often be related to it. It is a nasty injury that usually takes a long time to get over. So what is whiplash? What are the best exercises after you have suffered a whiplash injury and what can your Chiropractic physician do to help speed the recovery process?
Most commonly, whiplash is an injury that takes place in a car accident, however I have seen this type of an injury take place in other situations such as being hit from behind on the ski slopes or taking a hard fall to the ground. The impact results in a rapid and extreme forward-then-backward movement of the head. If the individual is unaware of the impending impact, the blow puts an extreme force of impact into the joints of the head and neck which results in extreme joint pain, inflammation, and sometimes in extreme cases, fractures. If the person sees the impact coming they will typically “brace” for the collision, causing muscle strain and/or muscle tearing. Though possibly less-serious because of the lack of bony involvement, the muscle pain is nonetheless very painful.
One interesting characteristic of whiplash pain is its manifestation. It is common for patients to walk away from their car accident not feeling a whole lot of pain. While your adrenaline is flowing the trauma to the neck joints and muscles often doesn’t manifest itself until a few days later. It is very common for my patients to be in A LOT of pain 1-3 days or weeks to a month or 2 after the incident, and that pain can last for months to years.
Whiplash is a very common ailment we treat here at the Vector Spine and Sport. After the necessary steps have been taken, and the neck has been cleared by x-ray it is important to get started in Chiropractic care and when tolerated Physical Therapy right away. Early movement to the spine, with supervision and guidance by your Health care team will ensure the quickest path to recovery. Your treatment at Vector Spine and Sport for whiplash pain will generally consist of three major areas of focus:
● Warm Up – A very important step to prepare the head and neck for increased movement using manual therapy.
● Manual Therapy – Utilize a combination of soft tissue massage and gentle joint mobilization to help improve neck motion. After a whiplash injury, lack of neck movement is the main issue, and this needs to be addressed first. This is probably the most important part of your treatment initially for whiplash. Whiplash pain, though initially focused in the neck area, often extends into the upper back muscles and sometimes even into the lower back. Each of those painful areas needs addressed with a hands-on approach by your Health care professional.
● Specific Exercise – One of the most important parts of treating whiplash injury is a customized, focused home exercise program. Your muscles and joints are designed to move; after a whiplash injury it’s important to remind them of that fact. Initially the focus should be on stretching and motion and then with time progressing towards postural strengthening as pain decreases.
So what are some of the best exercises for whiplash? Click on the image below to see some of our most-recommended exercises for whiplash injury. Please note that these are shared for educational purposes only (see disclaimer below); in order to achieve maximum benefit you should consult your healthcare professional for a unique, custom plan of care specific to your individual needs.
Click on the image below to open the PDF in a new window
Whiplash can be a very frustrating ailment to deal with. It requires patience, diligence, and consistency to see significant results. Rehabilitation following these accidents comes with ups and downs, good days and bad, but there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel. Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Massage and PT can help you get there in the quickest, safest way possible. So give the Vector Spine and Sport a call or schedule today, and let us help you get on the road to recovery.