Whiplash Injury Advice Sheet

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1 Whiplash Injury Advice Sheet

2 What is whiplash? You can get whiplash if your head is suddenly jolted backwards and forwards in a whip-like movement. This type of neck injury often happens in car crashes. Your neck muscles and ligaments (the strands of tissue that hold your bones together) stretch more than normal and may be sprained. Being in a car crash is a common way of getting whiplash. You may have been in a car that was hit from behind by another car. But you can also get whiplash if your car is hit from the side or from the front. Even slow bumps to your car can cause enough whipping to hurt your neck. You can also get whiplash from a sports injury. Or you might jolt your neck when you trip or fall, but this is a less common cause. Extract and pictures taken from BMJ - published 30 July 2008

3 Most whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) settle quickly without treatment. Despite the pain, the best way to help you neck is to stay active. What are the causes of neck pain in whiplashassociated disorder? Most pain comes from the ligaments, muscles and joints in your neck. Very few people have serious damage to their neck and spine. In most people, serious or permanent damage from whiplash is rare. The majority of people experiencing whiplash symptoms will recover fully. Can having an x-ray help with diagnosis? X-rays following whiplash injury can sometimes be helpful to the management of the symptoms associated with whiplash associated disorders. What should I do if I have acute neck-pain? What you do in the early stages is very important. You should return to normal activities as soon as possible, as this will aid your recovery time. Using a collar for longer than the first few days may hinder your recovery.

4 How can I control the pain? To help you get going and able to use your neck normally, you might need to control your neck pain. Many treatments can help this including: The use of an ice pack or heat pad over the sore area for just 10 minutes - make sure that you use a cover to prevent ice or heat burns. Over the counter painkillers you use for everyday headaches and colds - always consult your General Practitioner (GP) or Pharmacist before use, as some people are unable to take certain types of painkillers. Other treatments such as physical manipulation of the spine can be beneficial. The following professionals can provide this: Physiotherapists Osteopaths Chiropractors Movement is good for whiplash! The best thing for your neck is to get it moving and working normally again.

5 As soon as possible, build up your activities back to normal levels. This might take you several days or weeks. Remember, if you have a collar, to discard it after the first few days. Avoid staying in one position or doing anything repetitive without a break for more than about minutes. Over time, as your pain settles, you can try to increase the amount of each activity. Be aware of your posture. Good upright posture at all times will aid your recovery. You may wish to use a lumbar roll/rolled up towel in the small of your back if you are sitting for any length of time during the day. Start to move your neck gently as soon as possible. This will help to reduce your pain levels and improve your ability to move your neck. Expect to feel sore when you first start, so build up the time and intensity gradually. Try not to take time off your work or studies - near-normal activities will be good for you. If you have had to take time off work, get back to work as soon as possible. If necessary, ask if you can do lighter duties until you feel more confident (eg, for a week or two).

6 Things to look out for if you have acute neck pain? If you have severe neck pain, which gets worse over time, or you feel unwell with your neck pain, consult your General Practitioner (GP) in the next day or two to make sure there is no serious damage. If you suddenly develop any of the symptoms listed below, you should see a General Practitioner (GP) straight away: Altered sensation or weakness in BOTH legs/arms Unsteadiness when you walk Severe muscle spasm, abnormal neck posture Disturbed vision Inability to support your head Metallic taste in your mouth Facial numbness Dizziness NB: these symptoms are very unusual for people who have neck pain. Remember Whiplash is rarely serious and the best thing you can do is get active and restore normal movement and function to your spine as soon as possible. This information is modified from The Whiplash Book, which is based on the latest research and provides the best and most up-to-date advice. Copies may be obtained from your local bookshop or library ISBN

7 For East Cambs and Fenland area Self referral is not currently available, please contact your local MSK Physiotherapy Department if you are unsure about any of the advice: Physiotherapy Department, Princess of Wales Hospital, Lynn Road, Ely, Cambs, CB6 1DN - Tel: Physiotherapy Department, Doddington Hospital, Benwick Road, Doddington, Cambs, PE15 0UG - Tel: Physiotherapy Department, North Cambs Hospital, The Park, Wisbech, Cambs, PE13 3AB - Tel: For Peterborough area Self referral is not currently available, please contact your local MSK Physiotherapy Department if you are unsure about any of the advice: City Health Clinic, Wellington Street, Peterborough, PE1 5DU - Tel:

8 For Huntingdon and Cambridge City and South areas If you are unsure about any of the advice in this leaflet or if you require further advice from a Chartered Physiotherapist, please contact your local self referral service on: Huntingdon am pm Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire - 1pm - 5pm April 2015(V1) April 2015 April 2018

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