Whiplash

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INJURY TITLE

Whiplash

 

INJURY OVERVIEW

A neck injury sometimes following trauma to the neck (usually from a car accident but also from falls)

 

INJURY IN-DEPTH INFORMATION

A typical history would involve a rear impact whilst in a car. The vehicle is suddenly shunted forwards taking your shoulders and trunk with it.  The head will follow but not straight away.  The neck bends taking the head so far backwards that some of the muscles on the front of your neck automatically contract to bring the head forwards. 

Injuries will include one or more of the soft tissue structures depending on the degree of injury.  Ligament and muscle tears are common, as are injuries to the discs and smaller joints in the neck.

 

COMMON SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Delayed stiffness and soreness of the neck
  • Reduced range of motion of the neck
  • Headaches
  • Impaired memory
  • Pain into the arms and throughout the back

 

HOW IS IT ASSESSED

  • Clinical examination, to highlight the severity of the condition and to rule out any more debilitating problems like upper neck instability which can be harder to treat.
  • Assessment of neck ranges and function
  • X-Ray is NOT usually of much benefit, but they will help to exclude any fractures or instability
  • MRI will help determine if there is any disc injury, but will be of no benefit for simple soft tissue pain as there may be no changes seen.
  • The application of the above scan would depend entirely on the findings on clinical examination

 

 

 

GENERAL TREATMENT

  • Reassurance and education regarding the condition.  There is little or correlation between pain and damage caused by such an injury.
  • Calm the symptoms initially with appropriate medication and use of cold treatments for the inflammation.
  • As time progresses, heat may be of more benefit as it helps to reduce muscle spasm.
  • Physiotherapy for graded exposure to mobilisation exercises
  • Manual therapy to help with muscle pain and specific joint stiffness
  • Strengthening exercises to address any subsequent muscle weakness following injury.

 

Exercise Videos: i.e.

  • Rotator cuff strengthening
  • Pec stretch
  • etc

 

WHICH HEALTH PROFESSIONAL TO CONSULT

PHYSIO     X

MEDIC     X

PODIATRY     

Put an ‘X’ next to each health professional that most commonly deals with this injury.

i.e. tennis elbow would be Physio and Medic as injections are common, whereas for muscular LBP it would be Physio and not Medic as they would just refer them to a Physio.

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