What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury to the neck caused from a sudden extension and flexion of the cervical spine. It is caused by impact such as an automobile accident, but also by contact sports or physical assault. It occurs when the soft tissues of the neck, such as the muscles and ligaments, are torn because they stretched beyond their typical range of motion.
Neck pain from a whiplash injury is present following most impact injuries within 72 hours. The common symptoms include pain, inflammation, loss of mobility and impaired function; and less commonly nerve related symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness; as well as sleep disturbances, memory loss and concussion, etc. Many factors can influence the extent and location of pain, such as the condition of the patient’s neck, the speed, and direction of impact. 20% to 50% of people with a whiplash injury report persistent disability, decreased quality of life and psychological stress in daily life up to 1 year later. (Walton & Elliott, 2017) Headaches present as chronic symptoms in 70% of patients (Atesok et al, 2019)
It is because of the risk that whiplash injuries, even minor ones, can so easily become chronic, that it is wise to manage all whiplash injuries well, from their onset. Within the clinic, we are so often told by clients with persistent neck pain the following: either they considered their symptoms to be mild and would pass and/or their lives were just too busy to seek care at the time of injury…to their great regret.
The Role for Laser in the management of a Whiplash injury
Low intensity Laser, or Photobiomodulation, is a modality which provides pain relief, and accelerates healing by 40% or more. Light energy, from the red and infrared energy spectra, are absorbed by injured cells to increase ATP activity and to provide additional energy needed to heal and to restore normal cell function and structure. For many, the pain relief provided by laser is sufficient to reduce, and even eliminate the requirement for NSAIDs and other pain medications.
This technology is a great benefit to all injured musculoskeletal cells because the accelerated healing provides for a strong and mobile scar; a faster start to rehab, with less chance of relapse; and an earlier return to pre-injury activities.
Laser is of particular benefit to injured tissues of the neck, because one of the primary reasons for poor or delayed healing is the persistent strain of poor posture. Damaged tissues are inherently weaker than normal tissues, but the everyday activities of reading, texting, preparing snacks, driving and even sleeping all increase the strain on the injured tissues.
A Comprehensive Treatment Plan
At Avalon Laser Health, we strongly believe in, and offer to you, a multi-disciplinary approach to care. We want to support your healing in the most effective way. To do that our team members work with you to determine the best approach; whether it be to use physiotherapy for postural restoration and rehab, massage to reduce exaggerated muscle response or acupuncture for additional pain and stress control. Laser is our go-to modality for pain relief, though for full rehabilitation back to activities, it is best supported with strategies that restore function. The most important member of your team is You; we promise to provide our best recommendations for your care, and to respect your choices. We understand the restrictions of time, access and finances; and will seek to design a treatment plan that meets your needs.
Call Vani at 753-0155 to learn more of what we offer, or to book for an appointment with one of our therapists.
You need to heal well before you can rehab well!
- Atesok, K., Tanaka, N., Robinson, Y., Pittman, J., & Theiss, S. (2019). Current Best Practices and Emerging Approaches in the Management of Acute Spinal Trauma.
- Walton, D. M., & Elliott, J. M. (2017). An integrated model of chronic whiplash-associated disorder. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy, 47(7), 462-471.
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