Whiplash “Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD)” occurs when a certain force is transmitted to the neck or “cervical spine”. Motor vehicle accidents, any sudden forceful movements of the neck, a fall causing impact on the head, or sports involving impact to the head can result in injury. Any acceleration and deceleration forces absorbed can cause damage to structures of the neck.
A small amount of force can sometimes cause more significant injury than large amounts of sudden force. Reasons for this is largely due to the fact that the degree of damage depends on the amount of force involved as well as the direction of the force.
Signs and Symptoms can occur immediately after impact or may take a day or two to develop.
Here is a scale to help you understand how whiplash signs and symptoms can be classified and how to grade its severity:
|Grade||Signs and Symptoms|
|0||No complaints about the neck|
|1||Stiffness, pain or tenderness only|
|2||Stiffness, pain, increased soreness, loss in mobility|
|3||Stiffness, pain soreness, loss in mobility, Neurological Signs of weakness in shoulder, arm or hand(s), pain or loss in sensation in shoulder, arm, hand(s)|
|4||Stiffness, pain soreness, loss in mobility, Neurological Signs of weakness in shoulder, arm or hand(s), pain or loss in sensation in shoulder, arm, hand(s), AND Fracture or dislocation|
|Note||Symptoms and disorders that can occur in all grades, but are not limited to: deafness, dizziness, ringing in ears, memory loss, difficulty with swallowing, and jaw pain (TMJ)|
*** If you are experiencing symptoms that are similar to either grade 3 or grade 4 whiplash it is highly recommended that you see a doctor immediately. Radiology must confirm grade 4 classifications WAD.
For grades 1-3 whiplash, immediately following your injury apply ice for 10 to 15 minutes every hour for the first 3 days. Early physiotherapy intervention using manual therapy to guide soft tissue and joint movements, therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and specific home exercises are very effective.[2,4,5] Dry Needling intramuscular stimulation (IMS) is also effective in controlling pain and reducing muscle spasms and promoting therapeutic increase in mobility. After the first few days and beyond if your function in activities and perhaps even sport participation increases it is important to continue to achieve functional mobility and strength of injured segments.[2,3,4,5] Progressive techniques using manual therapy, massage and specific home exercises and postural education is very effective to achieve this.[2,4] Dry needling (IMS) can also help to progress with your recovery.
Full functional recovery from Whiplash can take anywhere from 6 weeks up to 12 weeks or longer depending on the severity and nature of the injury. As you begin to recover and resume certain activities, and even participation in sports within the first 2- 3 weeks, your joints, ligaments, and muscles are still healing.[1,4] By regaining joint mobility, strengthening muscles and retraining the coordinated movements of injured areas you will get back “InSync” to your active lifestyle.
For more information about neck injuries please contact InSync Physio.Contact Us