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Whiplash-Associated Disorder

What Is Whiplash-Associated Disorder?

Whiplash Associated Disorders (WADS) are a variety of bony or soft tissue injuries that result from an acceleration-deceleration movement of the neck (Spitzer et al., 1995). Due to the rapid changes in speed and high impact forces, motor vehicle accidents are one of the common causes of WAD; however, WAD may also occur during other incidents such as diving. Common symptoms of WAD include neck pain, reduced neck mobility, and headaches (Leigh, 2004).

What Causes Neck Pain? Your pain may be coming from various sources such as neck muscles, ligaments, vertebrae, nerves, and even discs (Sterling, 2014). Disc herniation, fracture, or dislocation may also occur in more severe cases (Sterling, 2014). Thus, it is important for you to visit trained healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists or chiropractors who can thoroughly assess and diagnose your present condition. Along with physical factors, psychological factors such as post-traumatic stress and depression may occur in patients with acute or chronic WAD. These are identified using questionnaires provided to you by your physiotherapist or chiropractor who will then collaborate with other healthcare professionals in order to effectively manage your condition.

How Can Physiotherapy And Chiropractic Care Help? Based on your assessment and diagnosis, our physiotherapists and chiropractors will develop an individualized treatment plan to manage your condition. These will include therapeutic exercise, manual-therapy, and may involve other multimodal therapies. They will also provide you with education and advice on early return to activities after your injury (Mercer et al., 2007). A recent systematic review concluded that conservative management including active interventions is useful in reducing pain in patients with WAD (Wiangkham et al., 2015). A literature review also reported that early implementation of rehab exercises has positive effects on pain and function in individuals with WAD (Pastakia and Kumar, 2011).

References: Leigh, T. (2004) Clinical practice guidelines for the physiotherapy treatment of patients with whiplash-associated disorders. Vancouver, Canada: Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia. Mercer, C., Jackson, A. and Moore, A. (2007) ‘Developing clinical guidelines for the physiotherapy management of whiplash-associated disorder (WAD)’, International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 10(2), pp. 50-54. Pastakia, K. and Kumar, S. (2011) ‘Acute whiplash-associated disorders (WAD)’, Open Access Emerg Med, 3, pp. 29-32. Spitzer, W. O., Skovron, M. L., Salmi, L. R., Cassidy, J. D., Duranceau, J., Suissa, S. and Zeiss, E. (1995) ‘Scientific monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders: redefining “whiplash” and its management, Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 20(8 Suppl), pp. 1s-73s. Sterling, M. (2014) ‘Physiotherapy management of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD)’, Journal of Physiotherapy, 60(1), pp. 5-12. Wiangkham, T., Duda, J., Haque, S., Madi, M. and Rushton, A. (2015) ‘The Effectiveness of Conservative Management for Acute Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD) II: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials’, PLOS ONE, 10(7), p. e0133415.

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