Physical Therapy for Whiplash
Physical therapy is an effective treatment option for whiplash, especially when combined with other treatments, such as bracing and medications. In whiplash, the soft tissues in your neck are damaged, so a physical therapist can work with you to restore proper function and movement of those tissues.
Physical therapy includes both passive and active treatments. Passive treatments help to relax you and your body. They're called passive because you don't have to actively participate. Most likely, you're experiencing acute pain because of whiplash, so you'll probably start with passive treatments as your body heals and/or adjusts to the pain. But the goal of physical therapy is to get into active treatments. These are therapeutic exercises that strengthen your body so that your spine has better support.
Treatments -Deep Tissue Massage: This technique targets muscle tension that can develop as a result of whiplash. The therapist uses direct pressure and friction to try to release the tension in your soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles). This should help them heal faster.
Hot and Cold Therapies: By using heat, the physical therapist seeks to get more blood to the target area because an increased blood flow brings more oxygen and nutrients to that area. Blood is also needed to remove waste byproducts created by muscle spasms, and it also helps healing.
Cold therapy slows circulation, helping to reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Your physical therapist will alternate between hot and cold therapies.
(When you first injure yourself—either in a car accident or in another trauma-inducing event—you can use this hot and cold therapy technique at home. Use ice first to bring down the inflammation, and after the first 24 to 48 hours, you can switch between ice and heat. The heat will help relax tense muscles, and it will increase circulation to the injured area. Increased circulation promotes faster healing. As a reminder, never put ice or heat directly on your skin—wrap it in a towel, for example.)
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