At our Cairns city physiotherapy clinic, we help a lot of clients with whiplash and other complex pain conditions, especially those who are under Workcover or Compulsory Third Party insurance. Whiplash is something which can cause a lot of anxiety in sufferers, especially when they don’t fully understand it. We’ve written this blog post to help you understand whiplash and the role of expert physiotherapy treatment for whiplash and similar issues (including post-concussion syndrome).
Whiplash is a bony or soft tissue injury which results from an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It is the most common injury associated with motor vehicle accidents, affecting up to 83% of patients involved in collisions, and is a common cause of chronic disability. Whiplash injuries can also occur due to any injury which involves a fall onto the head or a rapid forwards and backwards motion of the head
Whiplash is associated with a wide variety of clinical symptoms including:
– neck pain
– neck stiffness
– arm pain and tingling
-temporo-mandibular dysfunction (jaw pain)
– problems with memory and concentration
– psychological distress
This group of symptoms and signs are collectively termed WAD (Whiplash associated disorders). It’s important to note that not all Whiplash disorders lead to any changes on Xrays, MRIs or other imaging modalities. It’s also important to note that any changes which may occur on imaging, aren’t necessarily correlated with the pain presenting (that is, healthy and pain free people often have abnormal Xray findings, while those with significant pain may have no abnormality on scanning). This is why a detailed and comprehensive, individualized physiotherapy assessment of your neck pain is key to your recovery. See our blog post on MRI findings here.
What is recommended?
There is strong evidence that both early movement and physiotherapy lead to improved outcomes and that rest and motion restriction may hinder recovery.
Exercise programs are strongly supported for patients with chronic disorders. However the type of exercise performed can impair or improve symptoms, so it is important to get expert physiotherapy guidance in this. At Wellness Embodied, our physiotherapists are all trained in Clinical Pilates, or Movement Based Classification Therapy. This enables us to use testing and assessment techniques to correctly prescribe the right exercises in our Cairns city physiotherapy rehabilitation room. Other techniques used at Wellness Embodied to assist with your symptoms of Whiplash include:
Watson Headache Technique: The rapid forwards and backward movement of the head can lead to muscle spasm within the upper cervical spine region. If the spasming or tight muscle acts on the bones it attaches to, it can sometimes cause small rotational shifts or areas of stiffness in the joints at the top of your neck. Because the nerves around these joints communicate so closely with the trigemino-cervical nucleus in the brainstem, they can often cause this area to become over-sensitive, leading to distress, dizziness, pain, visual issues and more. Specific assessment and treatment of this area by a skilled and trained physiotherapist in Watson technique can give great relief for Whiplash pain quickly.
Dry Needling/ Medical Acupuncture.
Mobilisation of sensitive nervous tissue: See our blog post on Nerve sensitivity here .
Taping: See our blog post on kinesio taping here.
Craniosacral Therapy: See our video explaining craniosacral therapy here.