Are you suffering from whiplash? Have you been involved in a road traffic accident? Have you jarred your neck? Do you play contact sports?
The neck (cervical spine) is responsible for both supporting the weight of the head and protecting the multiple nerves that carry sensory (responsible for sensation) and motor (power to muscles) information from the brain to the rest of the body. The neck is also an extremely mobile region of the spine, allowing the head to move up and down, left and right.
Whiplash is the term given to sudden backward-forward propulsion of the neck, causing the neck muscles and tendons to over-stretch and tear. It is a relatively common neck injury, which is often associated with road traffic accidents (typically a rear shunt mechanism whilst in a stationary position) and contact sports such as rugby, football and ice hockey. Other sports posing a risk for whiplash injuries include boxing, martial arts, football, cycling & horse riding.
Whiplash symptoms can be both acute and chronic in presentation. People suffering from whiplash symptoms may encounter delayed and prolonged pain after this type of injury. In some cases a smaller ‘incident’ can unmask whiplash symptoms from weeks, months or even years before.
Symptoms reported regularly include:
- Neck tension
- Pain-associated restriction in neck movement
- Pain in all ranges of neck movement
- Tenderness to touch neck muscles and joints
- Headaches at the base of the skull that refer into the temples & forehead
- Shoulder, jaw, upper back pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Long-term depression, mood swings, anxiety, stress
- Interrupted sleep pattern
- Drug (pain relief medication) dependency
Osteopathic treatment for whiplash injuries is both gentle and methodical. In conjunction with pain medication (as appropriate for the individual) we aim reduce the pain and irritation for the patient with effective joint and muscle techniques.
In addition to manual therapy, icing the neck when the injury is acute (initial 72-hours) is beneficial. Following this, the application of a heat pack / keeping the muscles warm is advised to encourage fresh blood into the tight and sore muscles.