By May 3, 2017Common Conditions
Common Conditions



What is Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury which results from sudden acceleration-deceleration forces on the neck. The term encompasses a variety issues affecting muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, discs and nerves.

What Causes Whiplash?

Whiplash generally results from a traumatic event involving sudden acceleration-deceleration forces. The most common cause for whiplash is a motor vehicle accident. Other potential causes may include roller-coasters, bungy jumping or a sports-related collision.

What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Symptoms and severity of whiplash can vary significantly between people. The most commonly reported symptom is neck pain or stiffness. This can occur anywhere from immediately after the injury to several days later.

Whiplash Treatment

Research shows the most effective way to treat your injury is with a combination of treatment options which are tailored to your individual dysfunctions. Research evidence supports various treatment approaches. Your best treatment direction should be guided by an expert in the rehabilitation such as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist who specialises in neck injuries or whiplash.
Potential treatment methods for whiplash include:

  • Continuing your normal daily regime: Acting Normal!
  • Active treatment guided by your physiotherapist.
  • Exercise to encourage flexibility, strength and good posture.
  • Fine neck muscle and proprioception retraining programs guided by a physiotherapist.
  • Acupuncture or dry needling for pain relief.
  • Education on the injury: asking questions!
  • Joint mobilisation or manipulation to loosen stiff joints.
  • Medication to assist your pain, muscle tension or to assist you psychologically.
  • Psychologist advice.
  • Vestibular rehabilitation if dizziness is one of your symptoms.
  • Soft tissue massage may assist for short-term muscle tension relief.
  • Electrotherapy for pain relief and to assist early healing.


Most whiplash patients will start to feel better within a few weeks of the injury. Your physiotherapy treatment will aim to:

  • Reduce neck pain, headaches and inflammation.
  • Normalise joint range of motion.
  • Strengthen your neck muscles.
  • Strengthen your upper back muscles.
  • Improve your neck posture.
  • Normalise your muscle lengths and resting muscle tension.
  • Resolve any deficit in neural tissue extensibility.
  • Improve your neck proprioception, fine motor control and balance
  • Improve your ability to cope with everyday activities, plus more stressful ones such as lifting.
  • Minimise your chance of future neck pain or disability.

We strongly suggest that you discuss your specific whiplash injury after a thorough examination from a physiotherapist who specialise in whiplash associated disorder.

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