Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck caused from a sudden extension and flexion of the cervical spine. It occurs when the soft tissues of the neck, such as the muscles and ligaments, extend beyond their typical range of motion.
Whiplash is caused by impact such as an automobile accident.
Whiplash-associated disorder is the most common injury following a motor vehicle collision. Whiplash injury may also be caused by sports or physical assault.
Inflammation, decreased range of neck motion, disturbed neuromuscular control, and impaired neck muscle function is associated with whiplash injury. Impaired muscle function of the neck is important for stability, coordination, and posture control
HOW WHIPLASH IMPACTS YOUR HEALTH:
• Abnormal sensation of the upper extremity: persistent pain or abnormal sensation down the arm
• Chronic neck pain: neck pain that persists beyond 6 months after your whiplash injury
• Psychological distress: stress, anxiety, depression, or PTSD associated with the whiplash injury
• Jaw pain: “popping” of the jaw or jaw pain, especially while opening your mouth to chew
SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH
Neck Pain: It is common to experience neck pain, decreased neck range of motion, stiffness, and tenderness
Shoulder stiffness and tenderness: stiffness and tenderness may also be experienced in your shoulders
Headaches: headaches are a common side effect of whiplash. The pain commonly starts in the neck and projects up to the head
Dizziness: be aware if you experience dizziness and/or instability after the whiplash injury. Consult a specialist if you experience dizziness
Tingling of the upper extremity: you may experience pain or abnormal sensation down your arm
EXERCISES TO DO AT-HOME:
◊ Stand up straight in proper posture. With your shoulders back, slowly rotate your head to the left and hold for 5 seconds. Then slowly rotate your head to the right and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
2. LATERAL HEAD TILTS
◊ Stand up straight in proper posture. With your shoulders back, slowly tilt your head to the left and hold for 5 seconds. Lightly place your hand on top of your head, but don’t pull down with your hand. Slowly tilt your head to the right and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
3. SHOULDER MOBILITY
◊ Stand up straight in proper posture. Bring your arms straight out in front of you with your thumbs pointing up. Keeping your arms straight bring your shoulders back and perform a small circle at your shoulder joints. Repeat 5
◊ Begin by massaging your head, from the top of your head to your forehead, over your eyes, your temples, your cheeks, your jaw, your sinuses, and your chin. Massage the front, back, and side of your neck from the top to the bottom. Massage one shoulder, arm, forearm, and hand, and then repeat on the other side.
AT-HOME ERGONOMIC ESSENTIALS:
1. HEAT AND ICE THERAPY
While working and resting use heat and ice therapy in intervals of 15 minutes. Ice will help with inflammation and heat will help with muscle tension. Do not apply heat or ice directly to the skin. Place a small towel between the heat or cold pack and your skin.
2. CHECK YOUR POSTURE
Keep your neck in a neutral posture. Relax your shoulders and retract your neck back so your ears are aligned over your shoulders. Keep your eyes up, looking forward. Avoid looking down for prolonged periods of time, and avoid clenching your jaw or tightening your shoulder muscles.
3. TAKE BREAKS AND KEEP MOVING
Keep moving by taking frequent breaks. Stand up and move every 30 minutes. If you are experiencing tightness in your neck, perform neck rotations and lateral head tilt stretches.