Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs following a sudden acceleration-deceleration force or movement of the head backwards, forwards, or sideways. The movement is unrestrained, rapid and abrupt, often due to a car accident or any other mishaps. Hence, the force causes the head into forward flexion (head down position) and the head gets whipped back very quickly into extension (head in a looking up position).
Aside from road traffic accidents, the following reasons can also cause whiplash:
- being struck on the head by a solid or heavy object
- the head is suddenly jolted backwards due to a slip or fall
- a sudden blow to the head, such as during sports like rugby or boxing
When this occurs, the forces may result in injuries to bony or soft tissues such as in the neck muscles, disc, tendons, ligaments, and nerve roots.
There are several grades to the severity of whiplash associated disorders (WAD).
Grade 0: No physical signs of injury. No pain or discomfort.
Grade 1: No physical signs of injury. Neck pain, tenderness or stiffness.
Grade 2: Neck pain, stiffness or tenderness. Some physical signs of injury such as point of tenderness or trouble turning the head.
Grade 3: Pain, tenderness or stiffness and neurological signs of injury, such as changes to the reflexes or weakness experienced in the arms.
Grade 4: Pain, fracture or dislocation of the neck.
What are the symptoms?
Because the soft tissues in the neck become stretched and sprained, a number of symptoms can also occur following whiplash injury. Symptoms after the initial trauma can occur immediately after the injury or even after a few days. Additionally, do note that whiplash can also occur at relatively low speed crashes.
People who experience whiplash may develop one of more of the following symptoms which include:
- Pain in the shoulders and arms
- Altered sensation, pins and needles, numbness in the arms
- Visual and auditory symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty in swallowing
Less common symptoms include dizziness, memory loss, pins and needles in your arms and hands, poor concentration and irritability. The symptoms are usually worse the day after the injury, and may continue to worse for the next several days.
What are the treatment options in Singapore?
Treatment options for Whiplash with physiotherapy includes mobilisation, manipulation and exercises. Located in Singapore, our team of physiotherapists at Core Concepts can aid in your road to recovery by effectively resolving your injury with treatment options tailored to your individual condition. With actively guided treatment, you can expect to recover with reduced neck pain, improved neck posture and minimising your chances of future neck pain.