Physiotherapy for Alleviating Neck Pain & Whiplash

A woman rubbing her sore neck.

Neck pain and whiplash can make it hard to perform everyday tasks, even walking.

Whiplash can also cause you to worry as symptoms don't show right after the incident. The pain is delayed but can progress quickly.

The level of discomfort and pain vary, but most people recover within weeksβ€”especially with the right treatment and management.

What Is Whiplash?

woman with neck pain

Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when the head is suddenly thrust forward and then backward. The term is derived from the movement of a whip.

Whiplash affects the soft tissues in the body, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. These tissues support and connect body organs.

Since the force is abrupt, your body is unable to prepare for it. Whiplash often occurs in auto accidents when the force of impact causes the head to jerk forward, sometimes hitting a steering wheel.

The soft tissues in your neck are torn and stretched beyond their natural limits, leading to inflammation and pain.

Most whiplash cases aren't serious, but they can be potentially dangerous. You must see your physician or physiotherapist in Halifax as soon as possible.

Common Whiplash Causes

As previously mentioned, whiplash is usually associated with rear-end car accidents, but there are other causes that can affect anyone:

  • Contact sports
  • Cycling accidents
  • Physical abuse, child abuse (such as shaken baby syndrome)
  • Horseback riding
  • Amusement park rides
  • Severe head injury or trauma

Symptoms of Whiplash

Signs and symptoms of whiplash can develop days after the incident.

At first, your pumping adrenaline will mask any pain or discomfort. But the injury could be present without you realizing it. Once the adrenaline wears off, you may start to feel numbness and soreness in your neck and upper body.

Other symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck soreness and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain with movement
  • Arm and shoulder pain and numbness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Should you experience nausea or problems with your vision, as well as the loss of movement or possible fracture, seek medical attention immediately.

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent worsening issues.

Physiotherapy for Whiplash

The management, treatment plan, and recovery period for every whiplash injury differ.

Physiotherapy is one treatment option for whiplash. A physiotherapist can work with you to examine the affected area and recommend a personalized treatment plan.

Treatments can be passive, active, or a combination of both.

Passive treatments are performed by physiotherapists and don’t require active participation. Active treatments, on the other hand, are therapeutic exercises that help strengthen the body and increase mobility.

Passive Treatments for Whiplash

Here are some of the common passive treatments for whiplash.

  • Hot and cold therapy. Exposing the affected area to heat can help promote blood flow. The blood delivers needed nutrients and oxygen to the area. Contrastingly, using cold therapy or an ice pack reduces inflammation and swelling. If you do these therapies on your own, remember not to apply heat or cold directly on the skin. For example, wrap the ice in a towel first.
  • Deep tissue massage. This passive therapy involves the use of direct pressure to eliminate tension in the soft tissues and facilitate recovery. Physiotherapists are trained to use their hands to massage soft tissues and restore function.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound can help stimulate blood flow, relax tensed muscles, and reduce stiffness, cramping, and pain. The device sends heat into the muscle tissues, which then improves circulation.

See a physiotherapist or your physician as soon as possible to manage the pain and discomfort properly.

Keep moving within your pain threshold but avoid strenuous activities to allow the area to rest. Taking painkillers and warm showers or baths can provide some relief while you wait for your doctor or physiotherapist appointment.

Active Treatments for Whiplash

Aside from passive treatments, your physiotherapist may recommend exercises to improve your strength and joint function. Since every whiplash case is unique, your exercise routine is individualized.

Gentle exercises can help sore neck muscles to relax and heal. These exercises should be done with a physiotherapist to ensure proper execution and not strain the affected area.

Proper posture during exercise and everyday activities is also crucial to avoid long-term pain and stiffness.

Physiotherapy for Neck Pain and Whiplash

Don’t ignore your whiplash symptoms. Consult with a physiotherapist at One to One Wellness in Halifax to avoid long-term issues and complications. Get back to doing what you love with a personalized physiotherapy program.

Call us today at (902) 425-3775 to book your appointment.

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