Whiplash Soft Tissue Injury and Trigger Point Therapy?
Whiplash is not an actual injury. Whiplash refers to a mechanism of motion, in this case, referring to the movement of the head, neck, and upper body forward and backward (or vise versa), side to side, or any combination of the two.
Injuries related to the whiplash mechanism are commonly referred to as“soft tissue” injuries, generally because on a static x-ray taken after the injuries, no broken bones are seen, but the person still complains of pain and dysfunction. “Soft tissue injury” is NOT a diagnosis, but is yet far too often left as just that. The question needs to be asked, “What soft tissue EXACTLY is injured”? Often, there is more to the story than just some pulled muscles.
What commonly happens in these cases where the person continues to have symptoms after a “soft tissue” injury is the following:
- The whiplash mechanism (whether a car collision, a hit during a sporting activity, a slip on ice or other slippery ground, or fall from a height) causes powerful enough forces to be transmitted to ligaments and muscles on the opposite side of where the head is moving at any given point during the whiplash mechanism, that these ligaments and muscles may tear.
- Ligaments have a very poor ability to heal, and generally, they do not heal at all. Muscles, because of their expansive blood supply, have a great ability to heal when torn.
- Our bodies have many ligaments to resist how much our bones move when the muscles are not active (like when we are completely put under for an operation and have no control of our muscles).
- So when the ligaments are torn after experiencing whiplash, the bones that are held by the torn ligaments end up moving too much (called instability).
- Since the torn ligaments will NOT likely heal, the muscles which occupy the same general area as the torn ligaments will now be forced to act as helpers to those torn ligaments.
- Because the muscles are forced to do this continually, without rest, they will wear out and become and stay painful. It is like they are forced to run a 40 mile marathon every day, and do not get a chance to recover.
- Because they end up in this perpetual cycle of overuse, they develop scar tissue and trigger points.
- Daily treatment (and more importantly, self-treatment or home care) of the trigger points using any device that can ergonomically allow one to put sustained pressure (read my other post on Ischemic Compression) on the necessary muscles, will result in decreasing the daily pain to a tolerable level.
- I have specifically designed Dr. B’s Triggerpointer to target the muscles of the upper neck, the shoulders and shoulder blades, and mid back to low back.
Following the protocol of pressing on the muscles with sustained pressure for about 20 seconds will provide relief on a daily basis, as it is not realistic to seek professional treatment daily for months at a time.