What is whiplash
Whiplash is a term that describes a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways. The vigorous movement of the head overstretches and damages the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
Tendons are tough, fibrous bands that connect muscles to bone. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissues that link two bones together at a joint. Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- neck pain and stiffness
- tenderness over the neck muscles
- reduced and painful neck movements
After an accident, it can take a while (6 – 12 hours) for the symptoms to develop. The neck pain and stiffness is often worse on the days following the injury. It may continue to worsen for several days afterwards.
What causes whiplash
Road traffic accidents are the main cause of whiplash due to sudden stopping forces in a collision. It occurs when the head is thrown forwards, backwards or sideways. This means it can develop after collisions from the front, back or side and is one of the more common insurance claims.
As well as road traffic accidents, it can also be caused by a sudden blow to the head in sports. These include contact sports, such as boxing or rugby. A slip or fall can also produce the action to cause this painful neck injury.
How to treat whiplash
If you have suffered this injury, it’s better to move your neck rather than keep it still using a neck brace or collar. The most effective way to treat your injury is with a combination of treatment options. These are tailored to your individual dysfunctions. Musculoskeletal work from a physiotherapist who specialises in neck injuries will alleviate discomfort quickly. Treatments include: