Are you currently experiencing or have you ever experienced neck pain in the past? You are not alone! 70 per cent of individuals have had neck pain at least once in their lifetime1. A cause of neck pain, most common among drivers, is generally identified as “whiplash.” If you’ve ever been in a car accident or been pushed forcefully from the front or back, it has most likely forced your head too far back and/or too far forward, causing neck pain.
The bulk of your recovery occurs within the first 2 to 3 months following the injury, so this time is crucial! Unless you’ve had a neck fracture, it has been found that returning to normal activities as soon as possible is the best treatment for whiplash and contrary to popular belief, rest and wearing neck collars is not recommended.
If you have endured a whiplash it is also important that you consult with a health care professional to understand what has just happened, what to expect and what the best steps are for recovery. This may include medications or electrical modalities for the pain and/or inflammation, exercises, stretches and massage therapy that may promote faster healing. A physiotherapist, in this case, could help you manage your pain through manual therapy and exercise prescription to reduce pain, strengthen those neck muscles that may have been damaged in the accident to prevent any further complications and to encourage a faster recovery.4 In addition, physiotherapy can help identify potential issues with your posture following the injury, as the structures affected can influence the way you stand, sit or lie down which can lead to additional problems down the road.
To minimize the severity of whiplash, next time you get into your car, see how far back your head must go before it touches the headrest. This is how far back your head would be pushed if you were to be in an accident. Adjust your headrest to ensure that it is at the same level as your head in addition to making sure that it is as close to the back of your head as possible. You may need to adjust the back of your seat to achieve the best position.
A physiotherapist’s goal is to get you moving. That means getting you to a place where you can be at your best functional capacity, maintaining that and then helping you to prevent future injuries.
Everybody’s different. You might have completely different signs and symptoms than your friend. A physiotherapist is trained to customize a rehabilitation program specifically for you. That includes any other health conditions you might be experiencing, your age, and your activity level.
Physiotherapy typically involves hands-on treatment, including manual therapy to stretch stiff joints, and therapeutic massage to loosen tight muscles. There may also be machines involved with your treatment. Some types of electrical machines can help address pain or help to stimulate weak muscles. An individualized home exercise program will also be prescribed that may involve a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises.
It would be helpful to choose a consistent time of day to do your exercises. Would it be easier for you to perform your exercises in the morning, or before you go to sleep? Physiotherapy is most effective when you work with your physiotherapist as a team!
" A physiotherapist is trained to customize a rehabilitation program specifically for you "
We see a lot of pain, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Our job is to educate you on movement and your pain, and help you get back to whatever it is that you need to do.