Updated: Mar 8
What is Whiplash?
The term commonly known as “Whiplash” encompasses a variety of issues that can affect muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, discs, and nerves. Whiplash is a neck injury due to a forceful, sudden change of direction on the neck. Often this is from a traumatic event resulting in a rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck.
Generally, whiplash injuries are sustained during a rear-end motor vehicle accident, however, other potential causes may include rollercoasters, bungy jumping or a sports accident.
What are the common signs and symptoms of whiplash?
Generally, the signs and symptoms of whiplash develop within 24 hours of the injury, however, this is not always the case. Some of the more common symptoms can include; neck pain and stiffness, worsening of pain with movement of the neck, reduced range of motion in the neck, headaches, shoulder, arm or upper back pain, and dizziness.
How can my Physiotherapist help me?
There are many evidence-based techniques that are proven to be effective for treating a whiplash injury. Treatment techniques used during practice will vary from person to person, however there is much evidence supporting the prescription of exercises, maintaining a normal active day-to-day routine, manual therapy including joint mobilisations, and trigger point needling.
Typically, the aim of physiotherapy treatment will be to:
Reduce neck pain and headaches (if present)
Help the patient to return to normal neck range of motion
Strengthen the supporting muscles of the neck
Improve neck posture
Normalise muscle lengths and reduce any resting muscle tension
Improve ability to cope with everyday activities, and more difficult ones such as lifting and carrying heavy objects
Minimise the chance of any future neck pain or disability
How long will it take to get better?
It is hard to determine how each person with whiplash will recover. Recovery times can vary from a few days to several months, however, more commonly most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks.
We strongly recommend that if you suffer from any neck pain, discomfort, or stiffness, that you arrange an appointment with your Physiotherapist for a thorough assessment.