Massage for Whiplash Pain, Auto Accident Injuries / in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Auto whiplash

The pain of whiplash is often hard to ignore. The symptoms may include:

  • Pain, decreased range of motion, and tightness in the neck. The muscles may feel hard or knotted.
  • Pain when rocking your head from side to side or backward and forward.
  • Pain or stiffness when moving your head to look over each shoulder.
  • Tenderness.
  • Headaches at the base of the skull that radiate towards the forehead.

Can whiplash be serious?

Is Whiplash a Serious Injury? Car accidents can, and often do, result in a whiplash injury. While many people feel that whiplash is a minor injury, or will resolve on its own, that is not always the case

Is it ok to massage whiplash?

Any massage that causes a general relaxation of the client’s muscles can help relieve muscular pain in common types of whiplash injuries. … Friction-based massage helps break up scar tissue and relieve stiffness. Trigger point therapy works by releasing tension held in tight knots of muscle.

What muscles are involved in a whiplash injury?

Whiplash starts in the neck but can compress nerves and affect muscles in the back and arms as well. As with any hyperextension injury, muscle strains and tears are part of whiplash. Massage therapy can help alleviate the pain associated with whiplash in the neck, back, and between the shoulder blades.

What is the fastest way to cure whiplash?

What’s the Treatment for Whiplash?

  1. Ice your neck to reduce pain and swelling as soon as you can after the injury. …
  2. Take painkillers or other drugs, if recommended by your doctor. …
  3. Use a neck brace or collar to add support, if your doctor recommends it.

Is it safe to get a massage after a car accident?

Massage Therapy After a Car Accident. … Massage therapy is one of the best forms of treatment you can receive after a car accident. After going through a sudden trauma, having your body jolted by the impact, your muscles go into ‘protect mode’. They clamp down and tighten in the areas affected.

How long does whiplash take to heal?

The time it takes for symptoms to go away from a whiplash injury varies greatly by person. The majority of whiplash injuries heal within six weeks after the injury. However, there are 1/3 of people who report neck pain after ten years.

What is whiplash pain like?

Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after the incident that caused the whiplash. … Common symptoms include neck pain and stiffness. headaches, specifically at the base of the skull.

What exercises help relieve whiplash pain? 


Whiplash is a spinal injury that damages the soft tissues in your cervical spine (neck). Simple exercises and stretches can help your spine heal from this injury, but you shouldn’t stop there. Continuing to do these activities after your symptoms fade can help make your neck strong, flexible, and mobile—and that may help prevent future pain.

To help aid your whiplash recovery, your spine specialist may recommend 3 neck stretches: chin tucks, side-to-side head rotation, and side bending. The videos above will show you how to properly perform these stretches, and you can read more details about safely exercising with whiplash below.

What happens if whiplash goes untreated?

When a whiplash victim does not receive medical treatment shortly after the injury occurs, the recovery process can take much longer. … When whiplash goes untreated, or when the injury is severe, some of the common symptoms of chronic whiplash include dizziness and pain and stiffness in the neck or shoulders.

Chin Tucks

Purpose: To stretch the muscles in your cervical spine and promote good posture.

How to perform a chin tuck in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. As you look toward the ceiling, move your chin toward your chest.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch from your neck to the base of your head.
  4. Repeat this stretch up to 10 times.

How to perform a chin tuck in a seated position:

  1. Use correct sitting posture.
  2. Looking forward, move your head backward so your chin is tucked down. Nothing beneath your head should move.
  3. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat this stretch up to 10 times.
Chin tuck exercise.

Chin tucks can be performed lying down or while seated and can help ease a stiff neck.

Side-to-Side Head Rotation

Purpose: To decrease tightness in the sides and back of your neck, and increase mobility in your neck.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Rotate your chin toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head further into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Rotate your chin toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to move your head further into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat the stretch 3 to 5 times on each side.

How to perform a side-to-side head rotation in a seated position:

  1. Make sure you are seated with good posture.
  2. Rotate your chin toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Rotate your chin toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat the stretch 3 to 5 times on each side.
Man sitting in an office performing head rotation exercise.

Gently moving your head from side to side can help relieve tight neck muscles and improve flexibility and movement.

Side Bending

Purpose: To relieve a stiff neck or tightness in the sides of your neck and increase neck flexibility and mobility.

How to perform a side bending stretch in a lying down position:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Move your head to the right, bringing your right ear close to your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat on your left side, lowering your head so your left ear moves closer to your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

How to perform a side bending stretch in a seated position:

  1. Make sure you are seated with good posture.
  2. Lower your right ear toward your right shoulder. You may use your hand to gently pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Lower your left ear toward your left shoulder. You may use your hand to pull your head deeper into the stretch.
  5. Hold for 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.
Woman in an office performing a side stretch exercise while seated.

Slow and gentle side bending of your neck toward your shoulder can help stretch tight muscles and improve the flexibility of your cervical spine.

How do these exercises reduce whiplash pain?


When the soft tissues in your cervical spine have been damaged by whiplash, you may experience neck pain and an inability to move your neck as much or as comfortably as you did before the injury. These exercises are designed ease whiplash symptoms by lengthening and strengthening your neck muscles while promoting healthy posture and a greater range of motion.

When your neck muscles are strong and flexible, they are better able to support the weight of your skull and your cervical joints—and that can help reduce your pain.

Can exercise with whiplash hurt me?


Your spine specialist may recommend avoiding exercise immediately (24 to 48 hours) after your whiplash injury. Use that initial period to relax, and use an ice pack to help alleviate swelling and pain. After a few days, your doctor may recommend that you switch between heat and ice (about 20 minutes of each); the heat will help the tissues heal by boosting circulation to the area.

  • Before doing these or any other neck stretches or exercises, get your spine specialist’s approval first.

Whiplash is a spinal injury that requires extra care and consideration when exercising, so keep you, doctor, in the loop with your activity plan to avoid causing further damage.

Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to help you safely stretch and exercise while recovering from a whiplash injury. Physical therapy for whiplash will teach you the ideal activities to promote neck healing, and your physical therapist will give you all the information you need to safely stretch and exercise on your own. Once your whiplash injury is healed, you can continue doing those stretches and exercises to condition your muscles for long-term neck health.

Finally, exercise is excellent for your spine, but pushing yourself too far can have the opposite effect. Take things slow and steady. Going too far outside your comfort zone may stress and strain your cervical spine, potentially aggravating your whiplash injury. A focus on consistency (that is, doing gentle stretching every day) and proper form is the best way to get the benefits of exercise for a healthy neck. If you experience increased or new pain or other symptoms (eg, numbness and tingling) during or immediately after exercising, talk to your spine specialist right away.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask questions about the event and your symptoms. You also may be asked questions that can help your doctor understand more about the frequency and severity of your symptoms and how well you can perform normal everyday tasks.

Examination

During the exam, your doctor will need to touch and move your head, neck, and arms. You will be asked to move and perform simple tasks so that your doctor can determine:

  • Range of motion in your neck and shoulders
  • Degree of motion that causes pain or an increase in pain
  • Tenderness in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Reflexes, strength, and sensation in your limbs

Imaging tests

Imaging tests may not show any abnormal changes. However, your doctor will likely order one or more imaging tests to rule out other conditions that could be making your neck pain worse.

  • X-rays. Fractures, dislocations, or arthritis can be identified by X-rays of the neck taken from many angles.
  • Computerized tomography (CT). This special type of X-ray can produce cross-sectional images of bone and show possible bone damage.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging test uses radio waves and a magnetic field to produce detailed 3-D images. In addition to bone injuries, MRI scans can detect some soft tissue injuries, such as damage to the spinal cord, discs, or ligaments.

Treatment

The goals of whiplash treatment are to:

  • Control pain
  • Restore normal range of motion in your neck
  • Get you back to your normal activities

Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of your whiplash injury. Some people only need over-the-counter medication and at-home care. Others may need prescription medication, specialized pain treatment or physical therapy.

Pain management

Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments to lessen the pain:

  • Rest. Rest may be helpful during the first 24 hours after injury, but too much bed rest may delay recovery.
  • Heat or cold. Either heat or cold applied to the neck for 15 minutes up to six times a day can help you feel better.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), often can control mild to moderate whiplash pain.
  • Prescription medications. People with more-severe pain may benefit from treatment with certain antidepressant drugs that have been shown to relieve nerve pain.
  • Muscle relaxants. Short-term use of these drugs may be recommended to loosen tight muscles and soothe the pain. The medicine also can make you feel sleepy. It may be used to help restore normal sleep if pain prevents you from getting a good night’s rest.
  • Injections. An injection of lidocaine (Xylocaine) — a numbing medicine — into painful muscle areas may be used to decrease pain so that you can do physical therapy.

Exercise

Your doctor will likely prescribe a series of stretching and movement exercises to help restore the range of motion in your neck and get you back to your normal activities. Exercises may include:

  • Rotating your neck in both directions
  • Tilting your head side to side
  • Bending your neck toward your chest
  • Rolling your shoulders

Applying moist heat to the achy area or taking a warm shower may be recommended before exercise.

Physical therapy

If you have ongoing whiplash pain or need assistance with range-of-motion exercises, your doctor may recommend that you see a physical therapist. Physical therapy (PT) can help you feel better and may prevent further injury.

Your physical therapist will guide you through exercises to strengthen your muscles, improve posture and restore normal movement. In some cases, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be used. TENS apply a mild electric current to the skin. Limited research suggests this treatment may temporarily ease neck pain. More research is needed to determine if it aids long-term recovery.

How many PT sessions are needed vary from person to person. Your physical therapist also can create a personalized exercise routine that you can do at home.

Foam collars

Soft foam cervical collars were once commonly used for whiplash injuries to hold the neck and head still. However, studies have shown that keeping the neck still for long periods of time can decrease muscle strength and interfere with recovery.

Recommendations for using a collar vary. Some suggest limiting use to no more than 72 hours, while others say it may be worn up to three hours a day for a few weeks. Your doctor will instruct you on how to properly use the collar, and for how long. Your doctor may also recommend use of a collar if it helps you sleep at night

Treating Your Whiplash at Home

Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time. Keeping your neck still can actually make your whiplash worse and lengthen the time it takes you to recover. While you’re lying down, you may feel more comfortable. However, the pain and stiffness in your neck will be much worse when you do start to move around again. To avoid this, change positions periodically and incorporate gentle movement into your day.[

  • Gently move your neck within your range of motion. For example, nod your head slightly forward as far as you can go without feeling pain, then return to your starting position. You can also try moving your head from side to side.
  • When resting, set a timer for every 30 minutes to remind you to shift a bit and change positions.
  • It’s okay to walk around, but avoid exercise and lifting objects until you’ve recovered.

Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time. Keeping your neck still can actually make your whiplash worse and lengthen the time it takes you to recover. While you’re lying down, you may feel more comfortable. However, the pain and stiffness in your neck will be much worse when you do start to move around again. To avoid this, change positions periodically and incorporate gentle movement into your day.[

  • Gently move your neck within your range of motion. For example, nod your head slightly forward as far as you can go without feeling pain, then return to your starting position. You can also try moving your head from side to side.
  • When resting, set a timer for every 30 minutes to remind you to shift a bit and change positions.
  • It’s okay to walk around, but avoid exercise and lifting objects until you’ve recovered.


Take it easy so that the injured tissues can rest.
For the first 24 hours after your injury, you should remain on bed rest. After that, you can slowly resume the activity. However, you should still take it easy by doing less and spreading out activities. Listen to your body and only increase your activity level as the pain subsides.[

  • Spread out your necessary activities so that you can rest between them.
  • Avoid lifting heavy items.
  • Don’t exercise or do any strenuous activity.
  • Ask family, friends, and coworkers to help you

Begin applying heat to the injury for 15 minutes at a time after 24 hours. Heat can help soothe your injury, lowering pain and helping you feel more flexible. You can apply heat several times a day for short periods of time, lasting up to 15 minutes. This lowers the risk of burning your skin, which can happen if you leave the heat against your skin for too long.

  • The best option is moist heat. You can purchase a microwaveable heat pack that contains rice, or you can make one yourself by adding white rice to a sock and tying off the end. Microwave in 30-second intervals until it is warm, without going over 90 seconds.
  • You could also try a heating pad or water bottle filled with warm water.
  • If the heat source is too hot, place a towel between the heat and your skin.

Take over-the-counter NSAIDs if you have pain. NSAIDs are the best OTC pain reliever for injuries because they also reduce inflammation. NSAIDs like ibuprofen, Aspirin, and Aleve (naproxen) will help with the swelling and pain. These pain relievers are often enough to relieve mild to moderate pain.

  • If your pain is more severe, you may need to talk to your doctor about getting prescription painkillers.
  • Talk to your doctor before taking any OTC medicine. NSAIDs may interact with certain prescriptions and conditions.
  • Follow the dosage directions listed on the bottle, unless your doctor advises you to take a different dosage. You should always listen to your doctor.

Use a firm, supportive pillow to stabilize your neck while you sleep. Soft pillows like down are not a good option for those with whiplash because you need your neck to be supported and stabilized. Choose a pillow that is labeled as “firm” or that feels firm to your touch.

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.

Therapeutic Swedish Massage, Sports Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta


Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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