Whiplash is a common injury from a motor vehicle accident. It is a neck sprain caused from the sudden forces that typically occur in a car crash.
The first response to treating whiplash is examination by a physician. Often, a physician will then refer the patient to see a massage therapist to help with the pain that is resulting from the injury. Massage can help the soft tissue of the affected area to heal.
The use of massage after a whiplash injury can help the client to avoid the possible chronic neck problems that can follow a car accident. In addition to soft tissue damage, doctors must determine if the whiplash has caused a concussion or nerve-root compression. Once massage therapy is indicated, bodyworkers must assess the injured muscles to determine the proper course of treatment.
The signs that whiplash may have occurred can surface right after the injury or even several days after the event. Neck pain is the most obvious symptom of whiplash. Additional signs can include headache, dizziness, shoulder, back or arm pain, neck stiffness, and hoarseness or difficulty swallowing and/or chewing.
The neck is a delicate area to target with massage. Therapists need to proceed cautiously when working with clients with whiplash injuries. While most clients with whiplash improve within one month, symptoms sometimes continue for a longer period of time.
The sooner massage therapy is started after a physician clears the client, the quicker the person heals and the less likely they are to develop chronic neck pain. Massage techniques that relax the affected muscles will help relieve the pain and discomfort of whiplash. The most common techniques used to help treat the effects of whiplash include myofascial release, static compression and deep tissue massage.
As long as a massage therapist uses caution when working with whiplash, their efforts can play a major role in recovering from this type of injury. Massage therapists have the tools, proper knowledge and techniques to ease muscle pain. Therapists can help clients reach a state of relaxation and alleviate the tension created by a whiplash injury.