We received a phone call last week from Ray and this was his concern:
I attended Accident and Emergency on the weekend with neck pain following a car accident. They told me it was "Whiplash", however they didn’t do any scans or X-rays and I received no treatment. I thought Whiplash was a serious injury and I am still in a lot of pain – What can I do?
This is what I had to say:
You’re not alone in being a little concerned about receiving a diagnosis of whiplash – a combination of horror stories online and images of people wearing neck braces on insurance advertising has made us all afraid! The good news is that "Whiplash" is just a catch-all term for a number of symptoms in the neck or low back following an accident. Hence the now commonly used term "Whiplash Associated Disorder".
A scan or X-ray isn’t always necessary unless a fracture is suspected. A Doctor or Physiotherapist will be able to decide if a referral is needed. Most of our patients present with a combination of soft tissue damage, pain, swelling and joint stiffness. The majority of patients recover fully (although it can sometimes take months) and only a very small percentage goes on to develop long term pain. The amount of movement you have in your neck or back is normally an excellent predictor of prognosis.
Whiplash Associated Disorders are graded into one of five categories:
0: No physical signs
1: Neck complaints of pain, stiffness or tenderness only. No physical signs.
2: Neck complaints and decreased range of motion or point tenderness.
3: Neck complaints and signs of neurological injury.
4: Neck complaints and fracture or dislocation.
Once the risk of having a fracture is excluded you need to keep your neck mobile. Move your neck with some gentle rotation side to side, nodding up and down and stretching. Physiotherapy treatment concentrates on this and may include; joint mobilization, soft tissue releases, postural education and positions to ease symptoms, taping, advice on pain relief including ice or heat, and restoration of normal health and movement in the muscles and nerves. Your Physiotherapist can also describe the exact cause of your pain, reassure you as to the prognosis for recovery, relieve your pain and essentially get you better quicker. The majority of whiplash disorders make a full recovery but sometimes it can take a few months.
Physiotherapists at SquareOne are experts in treatment of spinal dysfunction and any referred pain associated with it. If you have any concerns regarding pain following an accident please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us on 9968 3424.