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  • Writer's pictureErienne Blanchard

I have whiplash! Now what?

Whiplash is most notably given by a motor vehicle accident. However, whiplash can occur from any action in which the head is moved quickly through a range of motion. You can have whiplash from a tackle during a sport, a wrong gymnastic movement, a fall, a trampoline, etc. Let’s define whiplash as it is a broad term. Whiplash is an injury caused by a severe jerk of the head. Whiplash causes ligamentous stretching which in essence causes an instability of the neck in which the muscles quickly guard, tighten, to give the neck stability and information of where your head is in space.

Man seated with eyes closed and no shirt. Therapist behind with hand on his forehead to support the head while working the neck muscles loose

Whiplash is painful from the stretching of the ligaments (just like a bad ankle sprain) and the guarding of the muscles causing pressure, tension, and pain. These reflexive processes of the body are necessary for healing but are quite painful. So if they are natural and needed, then what do I do while I am healing from this injury about the pain? Your physician may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and/or Tylenol as well as a muscle relaxer. These can help the inflammatory pain and the muscles to relax. However, this should not be the only treatment. Physical therapy can assist with reducing the guarding and re-establishing the stability of the joints while they are healing. Initially, stretching is not indicated as the ligaments are already stretched and the guarding is reflexive. Stretching will relieve for a moment but overall cause more irritation and pain as the guarding will return and stronger.

The back of a shoulder and neck of a women with her hand on her shoulder showing the area of pain

Whiplash treatment will include medication and therapy to assist with reducing the pain and tension by assisting the body to re-learn positional awareness, stabilize with active movements, and return strength to the postural muscles that were stretched during the injury. Therapy can be effective and quickly assist with healing especially when implemented early in the healing process. A certified manual physical therapist is best as these particular physical therapists will be able to perform the proper soft tissue release (like massage but not), manipulation (like chiropractics but not), dry needling (like acupuncture but not), and give the proper exercises to give you a whole healing process within the same treatments.

If you have whiplash, seek a certified manual and dry needling therapist now to help you with your pain and return you back to you daily tasks and activities quickly.

Call or text 352-727-0472 to begin your healing today.

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