Whiplash is a term used to describe a neck injury caused by a sudden violent movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways. The common causes of a whiplash injuries are road traffic collisions or a sudden blow to the head such as the type seen in rugby or boxing. Whiplash injuries can damage the tendons and ligaments of the neck which can cause symptoms of neck pain, neck stiffness, reduced and painful neck movements and/or headaches. Less common symptoms of a whiplash injury are low back pain, blurred vision and/or vertigo and these symptoms often take 6-12 hours to develop.
It was estimated that there was 250,000 new cases of whiplash injuries in the year 2003, with estimates now stating that the number has likely increased to 300,000 new cases per annum. The amount of whiplash injuries seen has been steadily rising since the 1980′s with an increased volume of traffic on the roads seen has a major contributing factor to this. A collision of just 15mph can be enough to cause a whiplash injury.
Whiplash injuries are usually short lived and self limiting, but in a percentage of people, symptoms persist beyond 6 months. The recovery time of a whiplash injury depends on the age of the patient and the severity of the sprain which can be classified by The Quebec Classification of Whiplash Disorders
Physiotherapy treatment has been shown to be a very effective treatment for whiplash. The earlier physiotherapy treatment begins for these injuries the more successful it is. Within the physiotherapy treatment we aim to keep the neck mobile through the use of flexibility and strengthening exercises, postural correction exercises, massage, manipulation and by using K-Tape. These exercises aim to re-stregthen the affected muscles in the neck and help to promote improved blood flow to the area.
Physiotherapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of whiplash injuries, with the number of being reduced after a standard treatment block of up to 6 treatment sessions. It has also been shown that following physiotherapy treatment patients report having a decrease in their reported pain levels and have an increase in their level of neck function.