What is Whiplash?
A Whiplash injury occurs when a person’s neck is rapidly moved backwards and then forwards beyond its range of motion, causing strains and sprains of the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your neck. Low back pain is another common complaint in a whiplash injury, Disc injury can occur when the whiplash injury mechanism is severe. This injury is most common following car accidents where a car that is stationary is hit from behind. Luckily, whiplash is not considered a life threatening injury, however, it can lead to a long period of a disability during which extensive therapy is required. It is important to note that early interventions from a Registered Healthcare Practitioner, who will instruct on proper whiplash injury treatment plan, may lead to a faster recovery time.
Symptoms of Whiplash
A whiplash injury can cause pain right away or up to two weeks post injury. This makes whiplash a complicated disorder to diagnose and treat. Common symptoms include:
- Neck stiffness and pain. This pain can spread to the upper back and then between the shoulder blades and can even go down the arm.
- Headaches, especially towards the base of the skull where the skull meets the neck.
- Vision problems i.e. blurred vision
- Pain in the jaw
- Low back pain
- Numbness or tingling in the hands, legs or feet
- Confusion and poor concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
How is Whiplash diagnosed?
The diagnosis of any condition begins with a in depth health status history questionnaire, which will include a detailed account of the accident, what seems to make the injury better or worse, when you first started noticing problems, and how your day to day life is affected by the symptoms.You will then have a thorough and all-encompassing physical assessment where our Registered Healthcare Practitioner will look at your whole body but focus mainly on your neck and low back. Your posture and alignment of the neck, as well as your neck’s range of motion and pain triggers will be thoroughly assessed. Some tests to determine the extent of injury to the nerves may be conducted if the physical and health history assessments point to a nerve involvement in the injury.
A treatment plan is then formulated to help you get back to YOUR normal, active, healthy lifestyle.
What are my treatment options?
Physiotherapy is a non- invasive health modality where surgery would be the last possible option. The goal of any physiotherapy program is to help to reduce your pain. Your posture, body alignment, neck range of motion and strength will all be assessed and targeted to help improve any symptoms of whiplash. Immobilization of the neck (up to 48 hours) using a soft cervical collar may be prescribed by the physiotherapist in an attempt to help ease the inflammation and pain associated with this condition. The Physiotherapist will also look at your sleeping pattern and position and may suggest a cervical support pillow which will help support your neck during sleep.
Chiropractic Care is another non-invasive health care modality looking at treating pain and inflammation of current injuries and preventing future injuries. A chiropractic treatment would include manual therapy with hands involving mobilization and stretching, muscle relaxation and/or stimulation using various modalities such as TENS, IFC, ultrasound and our Grade 4 Deep Tissue laser as well as education about proper exercises and lifestyle changes that may need to occur. Each Whiplash treatment is catered to the individual and is based solely on the Chiropractors physical assessment of the individual and injury mechanism.
Massage therapy is a fully hands on manipulation of the bodies soft tissues. The massage therapist will determine the exact muscles involved in the injury using specific muscle resistance testing. Registered Massage Therapists typically use 3 forms of massage when treating whiplash: myofascial release, static compression and deep tissue massage. These forms of massage have been shown to aid in reducing muscle pain, increasing relaxation and decreasing the tension and stress on the body and mind when dealing with a whiplash injury.
The RNS Health & Wellness Centre’s Rehabilitation Program
At RNS Health & Wellness Centre, we understand that everyone is different and every injury process is unique. We use YOUR rate of recovery as a guideline for our treatment protocols. We believe in utilizing an all-encompassing, multi-disciplinary approach to rehabilitation and health care. We have highly skilled, friendly and knowledgeable Healthcare Practitioners who work together as a team to help you regain your lifestyle. We treat the whole human when an injury occurs utilizing every health modalities strengths.
Usually with whiplash, patients should expect to spend two to four weeks in rehabilitation and a total of 3 months recovering from their injury. Our focus at RNS Health & Wellness Centre is to help you reduce your pain and inflammation using ice and/ or heat and electrical stimulation treatments such as IFC, TENS, Ultrasound and our Grade 4 Deep Tissue laser. Our therapists will have a very hands on treatment approach to your care, taking into account YOUR treatment goals. Once our Physiotherapist, Chiropractor and/ or Registered Massage Therapist deems your condition is stable, you will be introduced to our state of the art gym, where you will instructed on proper posture and body mechanics during exercises that will help you to keep your neck safe throughout your exercises and day to day activities. A home exercise program will be developed by the rehabilitation team at RNS Health & Wellness Centre and given to you to help prepare you to go back to work if possible and/ or to help you keep safe and healthy once discharged.