By Ben Evans PT, DPT
Causes of Whiplash
-Motor Vehicle Accidents
-Fall on stairs
-Football, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, boxing, rugby etc.
x-ray or MRI can be performed after a whiplash injury to rule out fractures, ligament, muscle and tendon damage.
Signs and symptoms:
-Generalized non-specific pain
-Vague visual, hearing, and swallowing
Red Flag tests therapist should perform:
-Alar odontoid integrity test
-Cruciate ligament test
These tests should be performed to rule out damage to important cervical structure.
Physical Therapy Treatment:
PT will focus on decreasing muscle guarding with soft tissue massage and other manual therapy techniques. Pain modalities which include; TENS, moist hot pack or cold pack, mechanical traction, US can be used to help patient alleviate pain and improve ROM. The therapist will focus on cervical range of motion and mobility to establish normal range of motion during functional tasks. Strength training of the deep neck flexors and scapular stabilizers will help establish stability and control of the neck motions after whiplash injury. The therapist should also assess thoracic mobility after whiplash injury because this can be an area that gets stiff and tight after.