Whiplash is a nonmedical term used to describe neck pain following an injury to the soft tissues of the neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles).It is caused by an abnormal motion or force applied to the neck that causes movement beyond the neck’s normal range of motion. It is usually caused by a flexion-extension motion of the neck that pulls and strains the neck muscles and ligaments.
now that the winter is here and the roads are slippery, whiplash injuries becomes very common. Most people think of their spine and head when dealing with whiplash, but the muscles of the neck and upper back are always affected as well. Muscles in the neck will develop trigger points from the violent whipping motion of the head that occurs with this injury. Left unchecked these points will continue to produce pain, stiffness and weakness. Trigger points in the neck are one of the most common sources of headache pain. Make sure you are getting the soft tissue treated as well as the spine if you are recovering from a whiplash injury.
One of the most common causes of neck pain and headaches that I see in the clinic is poor neck posture. This posture presents itself as a neck forward head up posture. The neck is usually rounded forward and down but the head has to be tilted up in order to see what’s in front of you. This posture will cause all types of imbalances with a combination of strained and contracted muscles. This can lead to not only a stiff achy neck, but also headache pain as well. Trigger points often develop in muscles subjected to this type of chronic strain. These points will cause pain, refered pain, stiffness, and weakness. These points will also mimick numerous other symptoms. Trigger points are difficult to deal with as rest and stretching usually aren’t enough to treat them. Trigger point massage therapy is one of the proven methods of treating trigger points.
The Splenius capitis muscle is located in the back or the neck. It originates on the ligamentum nuchae and the spinous processes of C7 to T6. It attaches to the occipital bone and the mastoid process of the temporal bone. This muscle functions bilaterally to produce neck extension, and unilaterally to produce rotation of the head to the same side. When trigger points develop in this muscle they will produce restriction in neck movement, as well as pain felt in the neck, but also strongly in the top of the head. Trigger points in this muscle are a common cause of headaches.