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  • Writer's pictureCorey Richason

How Massage Therapy Can Ease Neck Hyperextension

Each year, approximately 1 million people suffer from debilitating discomfort associated with neck hyperextension. Whether from a vehicle accident, sports activities or other types of physical trauma, neck hyperextension can be a significant and painful interference in your everyday life. If you believe you are suffering from hyperextension-related pain and are searching for conservative treatment options, massage therapy may be able to help.

What is Neck Hyperextension?

Neck hyperextension is a painful condition that develops when the neck is subjected to involuntary, forceful movement. Commonly referred to as whiplash, cervical hyperextension often occurs when an external force abruptly drives the head and neck forward and immediately backward. Rear-end vehicle collisions are among the most common causes of this type of hyperextension. When the head and neck are subjected to this type of force, patients often experience internal trauma to the spinal structures, as well as to the surrounding musculature.

What Are the Symptoms?

Neck hyperextension is characterized by a range of symptoms, the most prevalent of which is neck pain. Pain may present immediately following the incident which provoked the hyperextension. Often, however, patients may not feel discomfort until several hours or days following the episode. Due to the high probability of delayed-onset symptoms, it is always recommended that you visit your doctor immediately if you believe you’ve suffered whiplash.

Beyond neck pain, the most common symptoms of cervical hyperextension include:

  • Headaches

  • Myofascial pain

  • Limited range of motion in the neck

  • Dizziness

  • Stiffness of the neck muscles

  • Tingling or burning sensation in the neck, shoulder, upper back or arms

It is important to note that whiplash may also result in back pain and stiffness in other parts of your body. To receive a proper diagnosis, you’ll need to undergo x-rays with a qualified healthcare practitioner. Medical imaging will help determine the extent of your neck damage and will also help you decide on an appropriate course of treatment.

How Can Massage Therapy Help?

Neck hyperextension places substantial strain on the sternocleidomastoid muscles located on each side of your neck. After such an incident, these muscles essentially “lock up” and become stiff and painful. Just as massage can help relax and soothe stiff muscles throughout the rest of your body, it can also help relax the painful tension associated with whiplash. Gentle massage works to stimulate increased blood flow to the affected area, thereby increasing oxygen concentration within the damaged muscle tissue. To heal properly, these muscles require an influx of nutrients and oxygen which the increased blood flow effectively delivers. As well, trigger point therapy – a deeper, more specific type of massage – works to break up tension that sits in knotted muscle tissue throughout the neck. The overarching benefit of massage therapy is a restoration of normal muscular functioning and associated range of motion. If you believe you are suffering from whiplash, massage is a relaxing and conservative therapy that can help relieve your pain and restore normal functioning. Before undergoing any type of therapy for whiplash-related pain, it is important to consult with a qualified medical professional to determine whether you are a candidate for treatment.

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