A whiplash injury typically occurs when a static car is rear ended by another traveling at speed- this causes the car drivers head to be thrown forward then backwards causing a traumatic injury to the neck. Pain may be noticed immediately or in the days following the accident. The area of pain can extend into one or both arms and headaches are common. These type of injuries vary hugely in severity the severe ones may even get fractures in the neck bones. Generally it is just soft tissue that is damaged.
Initial assessment will involve a history taking followed by an examination of the neck joints range of motion and muscle strength. A neurological examination of the arms – to test muscle strenght and nerve sensitivity may also be undertaken especially if the patient has arm pain , pins and needles or numbness.
Treatment initially will involve pain management and electrotherapeutc modalities [interferential therapy, ultrasound, T.E.N.S.,hot or cold packs] may be used to help with pain control. A tempory soft collar may be prescribed. Restoration of normal neck movement will be the main aim and manual therapy [massage, myofascial release ,passive intervertebral joint mobilisations] and exercise will be used to attain this.
The majority of patients recover fully from this type of injury. They return to all their pre-accident sports and activities.
A small percentage can go on to develop chronic pain. In this group of patients we teach relaxation techniques and pain management strategies. We aim to get them self managing their condition with our support. They may need to attend for physiotherapy when exacerbation occurs and once this settles go back to self management.
With the patients consent we can write physiotherapy reports as requested by solicitors or rehabilitation case managers. We agree costings with insurance firms up front and in many cases the insurance company will pay the clinic directly so the patient is not burdened with the cost of treatment. We are also familiar with the P.I.A.B. [personal injuries assessment board] paperwork and can prepare reports for it. We welcome referrals from case managers and can help them better understand the impact of the injury on their clients life based on our assessment findings and clinical observations.