The start of the school year heralds much blogging on childhood and adolescent back pain. School bags seem to feature prominently in these. But what is really important for healthy young backs? We will dip into a bit of back ground but then come back to the bag.
Whiplash is a very common injury that can affect anyone. Whiplash occurs most frequently during motor vehicle accidents and the car does not have to be traveling at a fast rate. There have been cases of whiplash in people driving at 5 miles per hour. When the body is struck from behind, the head bobs back and forth, causing a whiplash.
This injury can sprain the soft tissues of the neck. That is the muscles, the ligaments, joints and the nerve tissues. In some cases the pain goes away after a few months while in others it may become chronic, resulting in a limitation of enjoyment of life.
Symptoms of whiplash
In severe motor car accidents, whiplash can damage the spinal cord, resulting in neurological dysfunction or paralysis below the level of the injury. Compression injuries can affect the brain, causing hematomas – a serious condition in which blood gathers between the brain and the skull. Hematomas may give rise to loss of consciousness, confusion, double vision and loss of motor skills. People with these serious injuries are seen in hospital as a matter of utmost urgency.
Recovering from whiplash
An X-ray is usually done to see if there is damage to the vertebral column, or an MRI to pick up any soft tissue injury. For the first twenty four hours ice should be applied to the neck to relieve pain. After that heat is beneficial. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs and in some cases muscle relaxants. Wearing a soft cervical collar is not usually advised as this inhibits movement and decreases muscle strength. ‘Motion is the lotion!’ Some cases of whiplash do not require extensive treatment.
Physiotherapy for whiplash
Getting patients moving as soon as possible has been proven to aid recovery. Therefore, physiotherapy is recommended. We have a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist with expert training in this area. The primary focus is to restore relieve the driver of pain and stiffness by joint movements, restoration of proper neck muscle coordination and retraining balance and eye coordination. It is important to have a multi-faceted approach using your doctor and on occasion, counselling to limit fears and anxiety. Walking is also important during this time. We will also supervise functional activities to ensure that you perform these pain-free and return you to your normal activity levels.
The common phrase “pain in the neck” has become a cliché because it is used so often to describe someone or something that is a constant irritation. However, neck pain and headaches are more than just irritating. They can be downright painful. Many pharmacy shelves are stocked with headache remedies, but finding relief from headache and neck pain often times entails getting physiotherapy treatment.
Bad posture is one of the main contributors of neck pain and sometimes headaches. The rule is to keep the head in a neutral position. Many of us tend to hunch or bend the neck forward while reading or working at the computer. In some offices the computer may be at a much higher level than the head, causing the individual to look up for extended periods. Sleeping with your neck too high or too low can cause neck pain and headaches, as well as a mattress that does not support the natural curve of the back.
Physiotherapy researchers have proved that long standing neck pain is related to stiff joints, improper co-ordination of muscles around the neck and a loss of ‘neck position sense’. All of these responded to physiotherapy treatment by the researchers.
Cause of Neck Pain Headaches
Trauma to the neck as occurs with whiplash is a very common cause of neck pain. Whiplash is usually associated with neck pain, but it can happen during skiing accidents or falls from significant heights. In severe cases spinal cord injury may result, requiring emergency care. When whiplash occurs, a cervical collar may have to be worn in order to rest the neck and heal the inflammation. A physiotherapy program consisting of muscle control, strengthening and range of motion exercises will follow. Your specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist will also examine for other problems from the injury that require onward referral, such as nerve conduction problems and over reactive stress responses.
Other causes of neck pain and headaches are:
Treatment for neck pain requires careful diagnosis and physiotherapy treatment depending on the condition. The goal of physiotherapy is to help you return to your prior level of functioning and assist you in living a pain-free life. If you’re a sufferer of neck pain headaches, contact Jayce Gilbert of Peak MSK Physiotherapy in Hampton, on 9533 5305 to make an appointment to discuss treatment.
Luca Scomazzon-Rossi APAM
Luca graduated from a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with honours and has a background in personal training.
Jayce Gilbert FACP, APAM
Clinic director & Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist* in treatment for back, neck, headache and TMD (Jaw/Face) problems.