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Whiplash

rome , also called acceleration-deceleration syndrome, is an injury to the cervical spine and nearby soft tissues caused by sudden hyperflexion and / or hyperextension movements of the neck, which is most of the time due to motor vehicle accidents. .

This impact can occur on the front or rear of the car. Although the sequence of the injury is different, in general it can be said that the acceleration of the head in relation to the body subjects its structures to excessive torsional and shear forces, which will damage the tissues by the forces resulting from compression and distraction. Clinical studies have shown that many of the structures of the spine (joints, intervertebral discs) and muscles and ligaments can be seriously injured by these forces, without necessarily producing radiological signs.

Symptoms of whiplash

  • Neck pain, which is perceived especially in the back of the neck and which is aggravated when performing movements.
  • Headache , which after neck pain is usually the most frequent complaint.
  • Vertigo and auditory disturbances
  • Weakness and fatigue in the neck, shoulders and arms
  • Paresthesias in arms and hands.
  • Visual disturbances
  • Alterations in concentration and memory.
  • Psychological symptoms. It can happen that patients suffer from depression or anxiety.

Important note : Not all syndromes have these symptoms. Everything depends on their severity, which is usually related to the intensity of the impact suffered and subsequent treatment and rehabilitation.

How can it be prevented?

As whiplash is an accidental injury, it is difficult to specify a prevention, but to try to alleviate the effects if we have an accident, we must know that …

  • If a person does not realize the imminent impact, the injury can be more serious than if he realizes that the impact is going to take place, because the muscles are prepared and reduce the pendular action of the head on the neck and the body .
  • In addition, the fact of having the muscles activated and contracted reduces the work of support that the ligaments must perform.
  • If you are looking straight ahead, the injury is less during the crash than if your head is turned to the side.
  • Another factor to take into account is the “previous state of our spine”, that is, the previous state of the cervical spine before the impact occurs, since existing alterations can condition the final injury.
  • The speed at which this impact occurs is also an important factor, since impacts that occur at 11 km / hour can cause tissue damage, and when it is greater than 30 km / hour there are usually more severe injuries.

Whiplash treatment

It will depend on the symptoms that the patient presents, and the phase in which they are: acute, subacute or chronic. But it is proven that immobilizing patients with cervical collars or prescribing elongated passive treatments prolong the symptoms, for which we recommend physiotherapy treatment as early as possible after the injury.

In general, the goals of treatment should be to reduce pain and normalize active movements and muscle strength.

Acute neck injury is treated with:

  • The first 48 hours will be positive the application of ice on the back of the neck to relieve pain and inflammation.
  • First, very mild massage therapy to gradually increase the intensity.
  • Thermotherapy , by means of infrared, microwave or hydrocollator depending on what the physiotherapist considers that reduce the accumulation of toxic substances in the muscles and relieve pain.
  • Ultrasounds in specific areas of pain.
  • Gentle mobilizations of the neck and especially of the arms, since when the patient reports pain with movement, the patient produces a generalized contraction of all the muscles in the area that frequently leads to strong contractures.
  • Breathing exercises can be beneficial for the relaxation of the patient and to ensure that he is ventilating well during the treatment.

If the injury has been serious after each treatment session, the collar will be repositioned until the doctor or physiotherapist, failing that, removes it completely.

In later phases, we will continue the previous treatment by adding:

  • Active movements of the patient in all directions and in order to slowly gain muscle strength, resistance will progressively be opposed.
  • Cervical muscle stretching.
  • General static correction and gaze normalization will be sought.
  • Proprioceptive exercises will be performed to stabilize the cervical spine.

People who have suffered an accident of this type should know that, probably for a long time, they will have an unstable cervical spine that will cause pain in situations that would not cause it to a healthy person (such as braking of normal intensity in a car) .

To avoid or alleviate these consequences to some extent, you should adopt a correct posture in your daily life, trying not to fix positions for too long (sitting looking at the computer at work, for example). It is very beneficial for the individual to periodically perform stretching and self-mobilizing exercises of the neck:

  • Head forward to try to touch your chin on your sternum.
  • Head back.
  • Lateralizations of the head (trying to stick the ear against our shoulder)
  • Twists to both sides. Performing each movement between 15 and 20 times each.
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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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