What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a general term used for the description of injuries to the soft tissues of the neck that have been caused by rapid acceleration and deceleration of the cervical spine.  This can occur during a nasty fall, such as off a horse, down some stairs, skiing, off a bicycle etc. Or during an car accident.  In the United Kingdom around 1,500 cases of whiplash related to motor vehicle incidents are recorded every day (source ABI).

What are the sign and symptoms of whiplash, or do I just have general neck pain?

Aside from the history of a fall, or an accident where the neck was stressed, below are some of the common signs and symptoms.  If you think you may be suffering from general neck pain, please click here to find out more information. a person with whiplash

These can arise for a variety of reasons, some discussed below.  However, concussion can also be a cause.

Limited Range of Movement
Due to a number of mechanical issues in the neck (see below) you may have limited range of movement and have trouble turning, or tilting your head in any, or all directions.

Misaligned neck vertebrae
Vertebrae may be misaligned to the front, rear, side, or rotated.  This will show clearly on any x-rays.

Muscle spasms
When the neck injury is acute (recent) the muscles in the neck go into spasm to help support the neck ligaments, which can often have been overstretched during the accident.

Sensitive spots / 'knots'
These are known as 'trigger points' by massage therapists.  These areas are sensitive to the touch and can often refer pain into the head

Neurological symptoms
These can include nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, abnormal smell, or taste, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or loss of hearing.

Pain in the jaw
The temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ can be traumatised by the rapid acceleration and deceleration in an accident.  It can also happen if the jaw is hit by the dashboard, or airbag.

What do I need to do if I think I have whiplash?

Firstly, you must see a doctor just to confirm the diagnosis.  They may want to send you for some exploratory tests to make sure you don't have a worse injury.  If you have seen a doctor and you are still struggling with the symptoms then Complementary Therapies can be supportive.

Suitable therapies

Once you have seen a doctor, the here at The Therapy Centre we have a number of therapies you may also find supportive. Our Sports Massage and/or Deep Tissue Massage can help to relax the neck muscles and relieve the sensitive trigger points for people with chronic, or longer term symptoms.  Acupuncture and Shiatsu can also be used in these circumstances as well.  

If, however, you are struggling with general stress caused by the event that also caused the whiplash and feel the need for a gentle more relaxing therapy then why not try our Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage, or Indian Head Massage instead?


James Barnett