An Overview Of Whiplash Syndrome

An Overview Of Whiplash Syndrome


Most people are familiar with the concept of whiplash. Usually it occurs where a person has been involved in a car crash, usually with the impact being from behind, as a person’s car is thrown forward the body is then forcibly thrown forward too. When the muscles, tendons and ligaments (which are sometimes referred to as the soft tissues) are stretched or torn during this impact, whiplash injury is then sustained.


Other less well known descriptions of whiplash are ‘hyperextension’ injury (where the head and neck have been literally over extended or cervical sprain, but the essence is still the same, they are simply other words to describe whiplash.


Whiplash is usually characterised by presenting with symptoms such as pain in the neck, shoulders and head. The neck, shoulders and even the head may feel stiff and the patient may have a headache.


Other symptoms include dizziness, low back pain, lethargy and inability to concentrate.


Whiplash Syndrome


Whilst most people fully recover from any whiplash accident, there are some occasions where the patient may go on to experience these symptoms for some time. If this is the case, it is likely that the nerves have been damaged and as a result the nerves are causing the patient to feel neuropathic pain. This tends to be referred to as Whiplash Syndrome, or Late Whiplash Syndrome.


Treatment Options for Whiplash Syndrome


Like so many chronic pain conditions, there is no one single treatment option that will ‘cure’ this problem.


Early indications are that treatment options should be explored as soon as possible. In other words if someone has whiplash and it does not spontaneously improve, even after gentle exercise is being undertaken, then the patient should seek specialist pain management advice sooner, rather than waiting until the condition has been with them for a long time.


Treatment options may be looked at very much from a team approach. Where it is though to be beneficial you may be referred to a physiotherapist who will help with exercises, increasing mobility and also advice about posture. Massage may also help the patient.

Where there is neuropathic pain, i.e. damage to the nerves, the nerves may be given some kind of electrical stimulation using a TENS or PENS machine. Acupuncture may also be considered.


Your pain consultant will also advise whether any treatments such as Botox or trying to block off the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain may be possible, but this will very much depend on the outcomes of other forms of treatment.


Medication will also be prescribed, often using painkillers as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.


Difficulty Treating Whiplash Syndrome


Whiplash Syndrome can be refractory in the sense that it is quite difficult to treat effectively, even when using a variety of treatment options.


Sometimes there may be associated anxiety or depression resulting from the accident that caused the original whiplash injury, which then developed into whiplash syndrome, which may also require treatment.


Your pain consultant will be able to advise on the correct course of treatment to suit your particular needs and to treat your very specific condition as effectively as possible.







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