Treating Neck Pain and Stiffness - Part 2
This is the second part of Stuart Hind's 2-part NAT 10 minute speed-learning class on treating common neck pain and stiffness.
Stuart presents soft tissue and positional release techniques that are typically applied together with direct trigger point therapy treatment.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a type of neck injury that occurs when a person's head is suddenly jerked forward and backward. This sudden movement can damage the tendons and ligaments in the neck. A whiplash injury can occur from an auto accident, an assault, or a sports accident. In addition to pain, whiplash victims can experience changes in muscle function, fatigue, and cognitive problems.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Common symptoms of whiplash may include pain and stiffness in the neck, headaches, upper back pain, weakness, numbness in the arms, and problems with vision. This pain can be chronic, lasting for years. The symptoms of whiplash may appear immediately after an accident, or may not appear at all.
Some whiplash injuries will heal with rest, but other injuries may require more medical attention. If the pain is severe, X-rays may be ordered to check for broken bones or other injuries. In addition to general X-rays, a doctor may order a computed tomography scan, a type of X-ray that produces detailed images of muscles, bones, and other soft tissues. In addition, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, uses large magnets and a computer to produce detailed images of organs, muscles, and bones.
Whiplash injuries are common in adults, but they are also more likely to occur in older adults. This is likely due to the fact that older adults are more prone to muscle injuries. Older adults are also more likely to experience other types of injuries to the bones in their body, including fractures. These injuries put pressure on the spinal cord which may cause headaches, tingling in the hands and neck, and problems with memory.
Diagnosis of WhiplashIn severe whiplash injuries, X-rays are typically used to rule out broken bones. Injections may be used to help ease pain and swelling. Other treatments include physical therapy, manual therapy in many forms, acupuncture, dry needling and pain medications. Antidepressants can also sometimes be prescribed to help reduce the pain and anxiety. If the patient is taking prescription medications, he or she may need to monitor the side effects of these drugs.
A soft foam collar, such as those sold at drug stores, can provide short-term support for a person's neck. However, there are limits to how long a collar should be worn (typically not more than two days or perhaps a few hours a day over a longer period) and you should always check this with your doctor or qualified therapist. It is important to keep the neck supported, as immobilising it for extended periods may interfere with recovery.
A proper headrest is also important. Using a headrest keeps the neck from moving and helps prevent injury from repetitive strain injuries. If a person is experiencing pain, an ice pack can be applied to the neck. It may help to elevate the height of a computer monitor to help prevent further neck injury.
There are many forms of massage and manual therapy that can also be helpful to whiplash patients. Manual therapy includes manipulation and soft tissue therapy, which help to ease the pain. Strength training can also improve range of motion. A doctor or therapist may also recommend stretching exercises, which may help to reduce the symptoms of whiplash.
Other treatments include prescription pain medications, which may include acetaminophen and aspirin. In addition, many whiplash victims experience symptoms such as memory problems, a loss of balance, and difficulty sleeping. Depending on the severity of the injury, some patients may need to undergo surgery to correct the damage. But this is rare!
This blog is intended to be used for information purposes only and is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or to substitute for a medical diagnosis and/or treatment rendered or prescribed by a physician or competent healthcare professional. This information is designed as educational material, but should not be taken as a recommendation for treatment of any particular person or patient. Always consult your physician if you think you need treatment or if you feel unwell.