Managing Your Whiplash Pain – Part Four
Now you have your exercise plan firmly established you need to progress the distances your neck can move towards its full range and increase the frequency you perform them. As the ranges of movement mostly move towards normal you will likely find that one or two movements are more difficult and slower to return than the others and your physio will guide you in how to progress those particular movements.
Graded increase in your day to day functional activities should also be pursued, steadily increasing the level of stresses you put through your neck and arms to allow the neck structures to become used to the forces involved. Sticking to the paced method of increasing activity is useful as the pain can still be aggravated if you get too confident too early and do too much too soon.
You may have gone back to work or even kept going to work throughout the episode. If you have had to have time off then you should try and go back to work as soon as you can, and not expect to be pain-free before you return. The benefits of returning to normal working are well established, even if it is difficult to some degree and you should consider part time or other flexible return to work options to get yourself back into the workplace.
Restarting any sporting or other exercise activities is also something which you should consider as soon as you are able. Getting aerobically fitter is a well supported treatment for many pain syndromes and people who are fitter are functionally more able overall. Starting at a much lower level than you used to is very important as you will be much less fit than normal and your neck region might overreact. Once you get going again you can increase the level of the exercises and the frequency of attendance.
Physiotherapy management of whiplash can be useful to identify and target specific difficulties you are having with particular joints, with treatments including simple neck exercises, massage, mobilisation techniques, acupuncture, postural correction and lifestyle advice. Your physio can help you maintain your rehabilitation programme over time as it may take many months before you feel you have regained most of your ability and reduced the pain to a minimal or absent level.
Author: Jonathan Blood-Smyth