Whiplash disorder is a term given to neck/head complaints where extreme forces displace the head and neck in one direction and resultant hyper-recoil back past the neutral position.

A whiplash injury is most commonly seen in rear-end type motor vehicle accidents. In these circumstances the force coming from the car behind causes rapid and exaggerated extension of the neck, followed by an equally forceful flexion.

The above movement cause a great deal of strain to be placed on different structures in the head and neck such as brain tissue, cervical musculature, ligaments, blood vessels, discs, facet joints, bones and fascia (look it up its brilliant). These structures, when damaged or irritated, can lead to the common signs and symptoms we experience with whiplash injuries.

These can include: decreased neck and shoulder movement, redness or swelling around the neck, neck and back pain (both front and pack), headaches, shoulder/arm/chest pain and trouble swallowing/speaking to name just a few.

Some of these may appear immediately, however with your typical minor fender-benders it is more likely to develop these after a day or two.

While the serious incidents require immediate screening and treatment in hospital, the minor injuries can be well managed with osteopathic care. Our osteopaths are not only looking at strain through your neck but also further along the anatomical chain, through the thoracic and lumbar spine, the hips and pelvis, all of these areas are affected in a MVA. In addition to treatment certain rehabilitation exercises or ergonomic advice may be provided and have been shown to be beneficial to both acute and chronic whiplash recovery (Fitz-Ritson, 1994)(Seferiadis A Et Al, 2004).

Our Melbourne city osteopaths are all experienced with managing and treating whiplash injury and pain.

Here is a quick video illustrating the forces going through your neck and head in a typical extension/flexion whiplash injury:

Article by Dr Max Krapivsky