Whiplash – Recover with Confidence

The pain with a Whiplash injury will often intensify over a number of days and can really affect your ability to do almost anything, so it’s an injury that warrants attention sooner, rather than later.

This resource has been created to help understand Whiplash and promote fast assessment and treatment.

About Neck Pain


What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury of the neck that can also be referred to as a sprain (injury to the ligaments) or strain (injury to the muscles).

What causes Whiplash?

Whiplash is caused by a sudden back and forth motion of the neck as a reaction to a sudden impact. The most common cause of impact is a car accident, however Whiplash can be caused by other forms of impact such as sporting clashes and other traumatic incidents such as falls.

The name ‘Whiplash” is descriptive of how the injury occurs and refers to the back and forth motion that occurs when cracking a whip.

What are the symptoms of Whiplash?

People who experience Whiplash will often not experience symptoms at the time of impact/ injury. In most cases, pain will develop or intensify in the days following the incident.

Symptoms of Whiplash include:
– Neck pain
– Neck stiffness/ loss of movement
– Increasing pain with movement of the neck

Some people may also experience:
– Headaches
– Pain / tingling in the shoulders, arms and/ or upper back
– Fatigue
– Ringing in the ears
– Blurred Vision
– Dizziness


How is Whiplash diagnosed?

Your treating practitioner will provide you with an assessment, including physical examination to diagnose Whiplash.

In some cases, imaging such as x ray may be sought to rule out further more serious pathology however, in the majority of cases your practitioner will be able to assess, diagnose, provide symptom relief and begin an active management plan from your first consultation.

For this reason, people are often encouraged to consult with a physiotherapist before seeking further imaging to begin treatment and begin recovery as soon as possible.


What are the treatment options for Whiplash?

Treatment of Whiplash can be broken into two categories: short term and long term management.

Goals of short term management are focused on pain relief and comfort.

Long term management focuses on restoration of strength and performing activities without ongoing pain.

Short term management of Whiplash includes:

– Rest
– Medication (including pain relieving, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing medications)
– Hot and cold therapy

Long term management of Whiplash includes:

Every case of Whiplash and every person experiencing Whiplash is different. For this reason, long term treatment of Whiplash will always be different for different people.

In almost all cases of Whiplash, there will be regular assessment and progressive loading of the muscles within the neck over many weeks to reduce pain and improve strength to cope with movement and activity.

People who are regularly physically active, have occupations or provide care for others that requires lifting activities will require longer management programs.


Neck Pain Myths  


Helpful Links and Resources

Please feel welcome to book an appointment here, or call us on (03) 52981147.

Understand and learn more with the following resources:

Pulled a muscle in your back? What does this mean and what to do about it?

The 3 Biggest Causes of Neck Pain


Written by:

Ryan Michell,

Physiotherapist

Proactive Health & Movement

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