What it is
Whiplash is an injury to the neck commonly caused when sitting in a car that is either shunted in the rear, or which hits an object at the front. Although the body is strapped in, the head is not restrained and sudden acceleration or deceleration will jerk the head backwards and then forwards (or vice versa) to overstretch tissues in the neck.
This leads to sprained or even torn ligaments, strained muscles and sometimes a partial dislocation of one or more of the small joints between cervical vertebrae.
Typically pain and stiffness increase over 24 hours following the original injury. Whiplash can also injure nerve fibres, leading to numbness, burning and tingling in the fingers and, in severe cases, may cause weakness or even paralysis of arm muscles. Other symptoms that may appear include headache and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Whiplash usually recovers fully, but it may be several weeks before full pain-free neck movements to return.
Applying a cold/ice pack during the first 48 hours, then switching to a moist heat pack (available from pharmacies).
Wearing a soft orthopaedic collar to support the weight of the head; this rests the neck muscles and ligaments allowing them to heal. Collars are usually only worn for a few days however so that muscles do not become overly weakened.
It will help to sleep on your back and to use a flat pillow so your head is not raised above your neck. Some people prefer lying curled on their side, but avoid lying on your stomach.
Supplements containing glucosamine sulphate help to boost repair of damaged ligaments, while antioxidants help to reduce inflammation.
Applying magnetic patches
Apply one or more electromagnetic patches over tender areas around the neck. Alternatively, apply two patches at the front of the neck and two at the back of the neck, at the level of maximum discomfort.
Easy to apply magnetic neck bands are also available.