Whiplash is defined as a sudden extension (backward movement of the neck) and flexion (forward movement of the neck) of the cervical spine. This type of trauma is also referred to as a cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) injury. Rear-end or side-impact motor vehicle collisions are the number one cause of whiplash with injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and discs of the cervical spine.
There is more than one way to assign a grade to a patient’s whiplash. Here are two examples of the more commonly used models used to classify or grade whiplash injuries:
- Grade I: Minimal – No limitation of motion, no ligamentous injury, no neurological findings
- Grade II: Slight – Slight limitation of motion, no ligamentous injury, no neurologic findings
- Grade III: Moderate – Limitation of motion, ligamentous instability, neurologic symptoms present
- Grade IV: Moderate-to-Severe – Limitation of motion, some ligamentous injury, neurological symptoms, fracture or disc derangement
Quebec Whiplash Classification
- Grade 0: No complaint or physical sign
- Grade I: Neck complaint of pain, stiffness or tenderness, no physical signs
- Grade II: Neck pain and musculoskeletal signs
- Grade III: Neck pain and neurological signs
- Grade IV: Neck pain and fracture or dislocation
When you first visit FYZICAL Bellingham, treatment is focused on easing pain and reducing inflammation. Our Physical Therapists may use ice and electrical stimulation treatments to help with these goals. Electrical stimulation treatments in addition to massage and other hands-on treatment can help calm muscle spasm and pain. Our Physical Therapist will work with you on how to move and do activities. This form of treatment, called body mechanics, is used to help you develop new movement habits. Our training helps you keep your neck in safe positions as you go about your work and daily activities. We will help you learn how to keep your neck safe while you lift and carry items and as you begin to do other heavier activities.