If you sustained a whiplash injury more than 3 months ago and are still suffering from pain, stiffness, headaches, or numbness and tingling in your arms or hands then massage can help.

I have several friends and family members who have suffered from long lasting effects of whiplash injuries and I have been frustrated by the persistence of their problems and the impact that this has had on their lives. Once their initial round of physio-therapy was over the medical profession did not seem to have much to offer them other than pain killers and they were left with neck pain, headaches and restricted movement which has lasted for months and even years.

As a massage therapist I was curious to see if the techniques that I was learning on my BTEC 6 Professional Diploma in Advanced Clinical and Sports Massage could offer any solutions. So as the final part of the course I carried out a small research project to look at the effectiveness of massage in the treatment of chronic whiplash.

The symptoms of a whiplash injury in most cases heal themselves within about 6 weeks. However for some people they can persist for months or even years. I recruited 6 lovely volunteers who had all sustained a whiplash injury more than 6 months ago and were still experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

  • neck pain and stiffness
  • persistent headaches
  • dizziness
  • low back pain
  • tingling and numbness in the arms and hands
  • restricted movement in neck and shoulders

These symptoms were also having an impact on their day to day lives by making it difficult to concentrate, disrupting their sleep and restricting their ability to engage in sports and other activities.

So what did I do?

I gave each volunteer a series of 4 weekly massage treatments using a combination of techniques including deep tissue work, trigger point therapy, myofascial release and gentle stretching. I also gave them some simple stretches to do at home.

At the beginning and end of the treatments we measured pain, range of movement and the level of impact on lifestyle factors such as sleep, concentration and ability to take part in sport and other activities.

What were the results?

I use these techniques every day with my clients so I know that they can be effective but I was absolutely thrilled when the results far exceeded my expectations.

Reduction in pain

  • After 4 treatments 100% of the participants reported a reduction in pain and on average their pain score reduced by 47%.
  • Half of the 6 participants had no pain at all at the end of the treatments.
  • Those suffering with tingling and numbness found that it had completely gone at the end of the study.
  • Participants suffering with headaches reported a significant reduction in their frequency and severity.

Increased pain free movement -There was a significant improvement in the participants ability to move their head, neck and shoulders without pain or stiffness.

Positive impact on day to day activities – participants reported sleeping better, returning to their favourite sports and activities and being able to drive more easily because they could turn to look over their shoulder. Small things that made a big difference to their lives.

How can you get these results for yourself?

  • Book remedial/sports treatments with myofascial release

This will ensure that your therapist will be able to use a combination of advanced techniques to help with your pain.

  • Invest in a series of treatments

These techniques have a cumulative effect so you will get the best results by having a series of weekly treatments.

  • Talk to your therapist

Take the time to really engage in the initial consultation process. The more your therapist knows and understands about your particular condition the better able they are to help.

  • Stretch and strengthen!

Build on and consolidate the work your therapist has done in your session by making sure you do the stretches and strengthening exercises that they give you.

If you still have symptoms from an old whiplash injury you do not have to live with the pain. Massage treatment reduced pain for my volunteers and it could do the same for you. Why not book yourself a treatment today?

Lisa works at Natural Balance on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.