Whiplash. So you get in a car accident. It’s bad enough you have to get your car fixed. Now your back hurts. Or maybe your neck? It’s called whiplash. Majority of the time it’s muscles and soft tissue that have experienced trauma. If you think it’s something more serious, then you should go to your primary care physician. But if it’s whiplash than a Doctor of Physical Therapy can help with that.
So your next questions is . . . .what is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the typical term for an acceleration-deceleration force that causes an injury to one’s neck or back. Most of the time it’s due to a motor vehicle accident, but it can come from any fast traumatic experience to your spine. Good thing is, whiplash has a really great recovery rate. Especially with physical therapy to help with the pain. Also studies have shown that if you continue with your normal daily activities (within reason) you can recover faster!
Here are some self-help tips that you can try:
- Posture – I always tell my patients that I know you can’t hold correct posture all day, but being aware of your posture is half the battle. Correct posture will take the load off your strained neck muscles and recruit correct postural muscles at the same time. I tell my patients to scoot their buttocks to the back of the chair and make sure the middle of their spine is resting against the chair. That way you actually REST against the chair. It’s not necessary to feel like you are straining to hold an upright position, that’s what the back of the chair is for!
- Ice/Heat – Whether you use heat or ice for your pain is really up to you and the time frame. I tell my patient’s heat is really good for sore or stiff muscles. Ice is typically suggested for the next 3-5 days after injury. I also suggest ice for sore joints.
- Exercises – Remember moving gently through functional range of motion will help you recover faster. Make sure you perform the exercises in correct posture, stay slow and controlled, and be relaxed. If you hurt while performing exercises try and gently work into the restriction.
- Be Adaptable – while it helps to go along with daily activities, you shouldn’t push through the pain. Get up and move regularly, carry lighter weight, rotate work/household chores, and do nothing in excess. Remember you are still healing.
Physical Therapy gives you an extra hand when dealing with your whiplash pain. We provide manual techniques, exercise guidance and encouragement. The healing process is different for each person. Be mindful that the rate you heal will not be the same as others, but most people who sustain a whiplash injury recover to a 100%! Especially when they attend physical therapy!