Whiplash Injury: Symptoms and Osteo Treatment
The neck, made up of an intricate system of bones, joints, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues is one of the most vital parts of the body. The neck is involved in coordinating strength, stability and nerve communication, supporting the head and aiding blood flow to the brain.
The neck area is also fragile and is susceptible to stress, poor posture and injury which may lead to pain and fatigue. A common cause of neck injury and pain is whiplash.
Whiplash occurs when an external impact, most commonly a motor vehicle accident, forces the neck to move forward and backward suddenly beyond its normal physiological range of motion. The tendons, ligaments and muscles become abnormally stretched and may tear. Whiplash injuries range in severity, and can cause acute and chronic pain. In very severe cases it may lead to spinal damage and brain injury.
Along with pain, those suffering from even moderate cases of whiplash may experience :
- Headaches, migraines and dizziness
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Neck pain when moving the head forward and backward or side to side or turning the head
- Stiffness, tingling or numbness in the neck muscles, and or down the arm/s
- Difficulty looking over your shoulder or moving the neck
- Difficulty sleeping
If not treated early enough, whiplash may also affect overall shoulder and arm movement. In some severe cases, it may even affect memory and cognition and can lead to more long term muscle and joint issues.
Whiplash and Osteopathic Treatment
Because symptoms of mild to moderate whiplash may not appear until 12-24 hours following the incident, it’s best to consult an Osteopath as early as possible, as the symptoms can worsen after 24 hours.
An Osteopath will take a thorough case history, and perform a series of examinations to firstly assess the severity of the injury and determine how best to treat the injury including preventing the possibility of further damage, or whether referral for imaging or to a specialist doctor is required.
An osteopathic approach to treatment for whiplash will include helping to reduce any inflammation and pain of the affected area/s. Our aim is to decrease muscle spasm and tightness in the neck, head, upper back and shoulders, and improve joint mobility. Once initial acute pain and tissue strains/sprains have improved, treatment can then progress to exercises and rehabilitation to restore mobility, including postural correction and muscle relaxation, both playing vital roles during the recovery process. We will also advise on use of heat or ice, apply taping or bracing if indicated, and refer for medication as required.
St. Kilda Osteopathy can help in correctly diagnosing musculoskeletal issues caused by whiplash, and offer holistic treatment to aid your recovery. See us today to learn how we may be able to help.