Most of us know someone who has had whiplash, but what is it and what can you do about it? Rear-end collisions or heavy tackles in contact sports are classic examples. The sudden movement places strain on all components of the neck – the ligaments, joints, muscles and discs. The result is often a pain that is difficult to describe and pin point, headaches and a healthy dose of worry about the extent of the injury.

The GP is typically the first port of call and they are usually very good at determining if an x-ray is needed. Imaging is useful for ruling out any fractures or nasty pathology but isn’t so helpful in the smaller details. The scans may show no reason for your pain, or show you things you don’t want to know about such as the normal changes that occur with aging but aren’t symptomatic. If you have been cleared by the GP but still have pain here are some helpful things to know. Firstly, the pain you have doesn’t mean your neck is damaged. Depending on severity it can just take time for the neck to settle, even up to 12 weeks.

The Whiplash guideline says the following do NOT equate to a poor recovery:

  • Head position
  • Direction of impact
  • Speed of collision or
  • Airbag deployment.

What treatment does work?

  • Stay active and do your normal things as you can.
  • Education is important to de-threaten this scary unknown.
  • Gentle exercises to build your movement and strength are good.
  • Sometimes massage may help but it is not as good as exercise.

What doesn’t work:

  • Lots of massage
  • Neck collars
  • Muscle relaxants

Speak to us if you want any more information or need help with the pain.

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