An acceleration-deceleration induced mechanism of energy transfer to the neck, which may result in bony or soft tissue injury, which in turn may lead to a variety of clinical manifestations.

Whiplash is an injury frequently associated with rear-end vehicle impacts, but can occur in all collision types and in slips and falls.

Strain experienced through the neck will vary depending on the direction of force, speed at which the acceleration-deceleration occurs, and whether the head is rotated or laterally flexed at the time of injury.

Low velocity whiplash may result in:

  • Early or delayed onset of pain

  • Reduced cervical range of motion

  • Muscle contraction or development of trigger points

  • Radiating pain (arm, shoulder, upper back, jaw)

  • Headaches

More severe whiplash may present with the above as well as:

  • Neurological deficits

  • Fracture or dislocation

The Bio-mechanics
In rear-end collisions the anterior neck muscles are exposed to eccentric contractions beyond their biological limit as the head is forced into a hyper-extended position. The deep anterior neck muscles undergo micro trauma. This micro trauma can result in inhibition of these muscles, which will reduce their ability to act as deep stabilizers of the cervical spine.

When the deep stabilizers are not functioning effectively the larger superficial muscles take on the role of stabilizing the neck. These muscles are not suited to constant low level contraction required for stabilization and develop active and latent trigger points.

Several studies have shown that persons involved in whiplash have greater difficulty relaxing their muscles in between tasks, especially when exposed to low bio-mechanical loads (1,2 references below).

Release of tight, overworked superficial muscles is needed alongside gentle strengthening of the deep stabilizing muscles of the neck for lasting relief.

Chronic pain from whiplash
While some whiplash injuries resolve in time, others sometimes of seemingly minor magnitude lead to long-term disability.

Persistent pain of articular or soft tissue origin can lead to hypersensitivity of the nervous system and the development of chronic pain. If utilized in the early stages Myotherapy may prevent the onset of chronic pain symptoms.

The Myotherapy approach
Rehabilitation after a whiplash injury will include appropriate care during the acute phase and a planned progression of care once the acute phase is over.

We Myotherapists will:

  • Treat trigger points and perform muscle elongation of both anterior and posterior neck muscles.

  • Treat joint restrictions, such as the 1st rib and rib-spinal joint restrictions as well as rotational restrictions and restrictions through C1-C2.

  • Treat muscles affecting the humerus and scapular position

  • Address any weak muscles that are perpetuating faulty posture.

  • Evaluate the muscles of the jaw to determine whether these muscles or TMJ dysfunction are contributing the pain.

  • Monitor any pain that does not resolve with myotherapy treatment so that appropriate measures may be taken to address remaining problems.