Cervical whiplash syndrome or cervical “whiplash” is a disorder affecting the cervical spine.
1) What is a whiplash, and how does it work?
Cervical whiplash syndrome or “cervical whiplash” is a disorder affecting the cervical spine. This is the most frequent trauma of the cervical region.
This pathology is most often secondary to a trauma that caused a violent hyperflexion/extension movement of the neck. This can occur during:
- A road accident
- A sports trauma
- A work accident
Although the pathology is known, the hypotheses on the cause of the pain remain unclear.
2) What are the symptoms ?
The symptoms of a cervical whiplash can be expressed over a period ranging from a few weeks to several years, depending on the severity of the attack:
- Pain in the neck (cervicalgia) and sometimes in the arms
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of joint mobility in the neck
- Occipital headaches
3) Is it serious?
The severity generally depends on the magnitude of the impact. Depending on the potential disability that can result from it in the long term, whiplash can represent a problematic pathology on a personal and professional level.
According to a systematic review, almost 50% of adults suffering from a shock of this type still report symptoms of neck pain one year after the incident.
4) Is surgery compulsory?
Surgery is only very rarely offered for this type of pathology (eg: associated fracture, etc.)
5) How does rehabilitation take place?
In the event of a severe trauma to the head or neck, rapid treatment is essential. After immobilization of the spine, the affected person must be taken to the nearest care centre.
In a second step, a multidisciplinary approach will be recommended to take into account the physical, psychological and social factors of the situation.
The physiotherapy treatment will focus on different points:
- Muscle relaxation and related structures
- Joint mobility
- Global and specific muscle strengthening
- Stability and balance (vestibular)
6) Can I continue to train?
After a shock of this type, stopping sporting activity is most of the time essential in order not to aggravate the injury.
Consulting a health professional will then determine the causes of the pain, exclude possible complications as well as the procedure to follow in order to return to your sports practice as soon as possible in complete safety.
7) What can I do to speed up the process?
In order to speed up the healing process, be sure to follow the recommendations of the health professionals with whom you work.
Laziness or, on the contrary, overzealousness, will be your enemies.
Conversely, discipline, rigor, perseverance as well as a positive and voluntary state of mind will help you get back in top shape as soon as possible!