Whiplash has had a mixed press, due to the wealth of litigation surrounding whiplash and car accidents. However, whiplash is a real condition. A study in 1994, which reviewed all of the litigation cases on this issue in that year reported that “the unavoidable conclusion is that the majority of whiplash injuries result in real, organic lesions in genuine patients.”

Sources of the problem

Technically, such injuries are termed hyperextension and hyperflexion injuries. Recent research by a car crash safety division of Chalmers University, Sweden, reported that in a car crash, it is an tenth of a second that the damage is done, as the neck moves too fast and the fluid is trapped and squeezed. The affected part of the neck therefore exerts extra pressure on everything it touches, including the nerves. This effect is called Vertebral subluxation, and in severe cases, its effect are immediate. In other cases, as the body tries to compensate for the changed circumstances, the effects may not become apparent until hours afterwards.

How it can be treated, and what to expect at the physiotherapy clinic

We at the clinic, specialise in the treatment of whiplash injuries. We aim to educate the patient and guide them through the acute stage of their injury therefore preventing chronic pain states later. Patients need a holistic approach looking at all aspects of their life to help improve their painful states after these injuries. Treatment modalities include mobilisations, massage, treatment of irritable nerves, postural and ergonomic advice, and advice on the management of pain.

Prevention methods

Since whiplash is generally caused by a traumatic injury rather than a disease, there is little that can be done to prevent whiplash injuries. However, driving and headrest positions and other safety-related driving matters will help to minimise damage should you be involved in a car crash. Directly after the event it is imperative to have the injury diagnosed and treated as early as possible to prevent possible complications later.

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