How A Physical Therapist Can Help With Your Whiplash
Your doctor may send you to a physical therapist to help you recover from whiplash. Initially, the treatments may focus on pain relief and healing. Later, exercises can be added to improve range of motion and strengthen your neck muscles. A physical therapist has several treatment options that can help your whiplash. Here are some he or she may recommend.
Hot And Cold Therapy
You may receive hot and cold treatments to your neck. This is done to help relieve pain and swelling. Cold packs are applied to reduce inflammation. Then, heat is applied to increase blood flow for improved healing. The hold and cold treatments are alternated so you get the benefits from both during a single visit to the clinic. You can also give the hot and cold treatments to yourself at home to help with pain relief and neck stiffness.
When the tissues in your neck are injured, they react with tension. The chronic tension leads to pain and stiffness. Massage therapy relaxes tense muscles and works out areas of knots and adhesions. The result is a reduction in pain and a better range of motion in your neck.
Your therapist might give you passive treatments. These don't require your active participation so they can be given even if your neck is too sore to move. These treatments use devices such as an ultrasound machine or electrotherapy. Ultrasound stimulates blood flow and promotes healing of the tissues in your neck. Electrotherapy sends signals to the nerves in your neck to block pain and offer some relief for your discomfort.
Your doctor may advise you to wear a foam collar for a few days right after your injury, but you don't want to keep your neck immobilized for too long or it will get weak. Once you're able to move without too much pain, you'll begin neck exercises. The exercises stretch your neck muscles so they become limber once again. When your muscles are loose, you have a better range of motion with your head. Other exercises strengthen your muscles so you don't experience pain due to the weakness you may have developed after days of immobility.
You may not need to go to a clinic for an extended time for physical therapy treatments. Once you're making progress, your physical therapist will teach you how to do your exercises at home so you can continue to heal on your own. Be sure to follow the instructions for the amount and frequency of exercises you need to do so you recover fully. Otherwise, your healing may be delayed and that puts you at risk of further neck injury and pain.