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Whiplash Injury- Complete Guide for Patients

Whiplash injury is a relatively common injury that can result in significant pain and a negative impact on a person’s range of movement for what can be a substantial amount of time in some cases. Although many people have heard the term whiplash injury, they may not fully understand what is involved with this type of injury.

What is a Whiplash Injury

A hyperextension and flexion injury to the neck, often a result of being struck from behind, as by a fast-moving vehicle in a car accident.

A whiplash injury typically occurs when a person’s head is thrown backward and then forward in a particularly violent manner, according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The extreme movement of the neck causes a straining of the muscles and ligaments in a person’s neck.

Biomechanics of whiplash injury:

In a typical rear-end collision, the occupant’s pelvis, torso, and head are accelerated forward in rapid succession. The large inertia of the head results in a retraction of the initially stationary head relative to the forward accelerating torso and this motion induces compression, shear, and ultimately tension in the cervical spine.

How long it takes to recover from whiplash injury:

Because of the nature of whiplash injury, and the manner in which the neck functions, this type of condition can take what amounts to a significant amount of time to resolve in some cases. Indeed, neck movement can work to aggravate whiplash, lengthening the recovery time.

Most people will recover from whiplash in about two to three months. However, in some cases, recovery from this type of injury can take up to two years, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Common Causes of Whiplash Injury

Although whiplash can result from a variety of different types of events, there exist three more common causes for this kind of injury. The most common cause of whiplash injury is an automobile collision.

Whiplash Injury by auto collision

whiplash injury

Rear-end collisions are the most common cause of whiplash. When it comes to whiplash caused by an automobile collision, the type of accident usually involves a vehicle being “rear-ended” by another car. Even a rear-end collision at a relatively low rate of speed can result in a person suffering a whiplash injury.

Whiplash by Contact sports

Another cause of whiplash injury is contact sports, particularly U.S. football. Whiplash is caused when players collide. One of the most common instances in which a football player suffers whiplash is when he is tackled by another player who comes up from behind. Football tackles and other sports-related collisions can sometimes cause whiplash injuries.

Read: Common sports injuries and prevention techniques

Physical abuse or assault

Yet another cause of whiplash results from situations in which a person is involved in an incident of physical abuse or violence. For example, a person who is punched in the face can end up not only with facial injuries but with whiplash as well. Sadly, shaken baby syndrome also results in an infant or small child sustaining whiplash.

Whiplash: Women Versus Men

Whiplash injury is more common among women than among men. The reason this is the case arises from the fact that in most cases, a woman’s neck is not as strong as that of her male counterparts.

Whiplash Injury Diagnosis

The symptoms associated with whiplash injury, combined with an associated event that proceeded these symptoms, tends to make a diagnosis of whiplash somewhat straightforward. There exist a range of symptoms that commonly are associated with this type of injury.

Pain typically is the prominent symptom associated with a diagnosis of whiplash injury. In some cases, the associated pain can be quite profound, significant. The pain can be persistent or flares up when a person’s neck rocks back and forth or from side to side.

A diagnosis of whiplash injury commonly is also based upon a decreased or restricted range of movement. There may also be a tightness in the neck. In addition, a person diagnosed with whiplash injury will have a feeling of knotted or hard muscles in the neck.

In making a diagnosis of whiplash, a patient will usually experience tenderness in the neck region. This includes tenderness to touch. Finally, headaches are common when it comes to making a diagnosis of a whiplash injury. The headaches radiate from the base of the skull upwards to a person’s forehead.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop within 24 hours of the injury that may include following:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
  • Tingling or numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Sometimes symptoms vary from person to person. So, some people may experience;

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbances


If not diagnosed and treated on time, whiplash injuries can lead to joint dysfunction, disc herniation, faulty movement patterns, chronic pain, and cognitive dysfunction.

How to prevent whiplash injury

Since many cases of whiplash injury come from car accidents where you’re rear-ended, and it’s hard to prevent those but as we know our safety is in our own hands so we must follow some rules to prevent such injury:

  • Wear your seat belt correctly and wear it on every car ride. However, you can protect yourself and your neck every time you get in the car.
  • Adjust your car to ensure optimum safety by checking that the headrest is not too low—the top of the headrest should be even with the upper tips of your ears and must be close enough to stop your head from moving too far (about 2 inches). A seat reclined back too far will increase this distance, as will poor posture.
  • Obey the speed limit rules.
  • Keep distance between vehicles moving front and back from your vehicle.

Whiplash Injury Treatment

A variety of treatments exist that aid in accelerating the rate at which a person can recover from whiplash treatment. Physiotherapy represents a primary course of treatment recommended for a person suffering from whiplash.

Physiotherapy can include a number of different regimens when it comes to treating whiplash. For example, massage therapy is likely to be an element of physiotherapy associated with whiplash injury treatment.


Physiotherapy represents a primary course of treatment recommended for a person suffering from whiplash. Physiotherapy can include a number of different regimens when it comes to treating whiplash. For example, massage therapy is likely to be an element of physiotherapy associated with whiplash injury treatment.


In some cases, a physiotherapist or doctor may recommend a neck brace or neck collar as a means of stabilizing a person’s head and neck and reduce movement in the aftermath of a diagnosis of whiplash injury. In some cases, a person may be prescribed medication to deal with more significant pain in a particular case of whiplash injury.

If you want to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, click here to contact us today.

A Physiotherapist may recommend following treatment and recovery paths to someone suffering from whiplash injury.

Ice your neck

Wrap the ice in a thin towel or cloth. Apply on the affected part to reduce swelling and pain as soon as you can after the injury. Do it for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days.

Take painkillers or other drugs

If recommended by your doctor, take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). It will help with pain and swelling. It is recommended not to take these medicines regularly unless specifically asked by your doctor to do so as these drugs can have side effects.

Use neck collars

It adds support to your neck but it is not recommended to use it for a long-term as it weakens the muscles in your neck.

Please be advised that these treatment and restoration options are for information purposes only. It is always recommended to speak with a physiotherapist for a treatment plan specific to your situation

Final Words

The key to the most effective treatment of whiplash injury is early intervention with a professional like a physiotherapist. With a prompt diagnosis and immediate treatment, recovery is quicker and pain is lessened.

If you have any questions or if you had a serious injury, please contact our therapists and we will provide you best treatment option. Click here to book an appointment.

An Overview of the Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Sciatica

Sciatica is a condition that afflicts a considerable number of people, causing these individuals great pain in many cases. Sciatica is a condition that afflicts the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve begins in the lower back and downs that back of a person’s leg. The pain associated with sciatica can become so debilitating in some cases that it makes it difficult for a person to move.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The specific symptoms of sciatica vary from one individual to another. Moreover, in most cases, a person experiences more than one symptom when dealing with sciatica.

One of the most prevalent symptoms of sciatica is pain the buttocks or leg when an individual is seated. The pain lessens, at least to some degree when a person is moving or even just standing. Another symptom is a burning or tingling sensation down the leg. Typically this occurs only in one leg.

Numbness, weakness as well as difficulty in moving a leg or foot are other symptoms of sciatica. Oftentimes this trio of symptoms are interconnected. Two other common symptoms are s sharp, shooting pain when a person tries to stand up and a chronic, prevalent pain in one buttocks or another.

Although many individuals experience chronic, persistent pain when afflicted with sciatica, others do endure less severe and infrequent sciatica related pain. However, with that noted, infrequent, less severe sciatica related pain increases or worsens over time.

Causes of Sciatica

At its essence, sciatica is caused as a result of the root (or roots) of the lower lumbar as well as the lumbosacral spine. In addition, sciatica can be caused by a condition that medially is known as lumbar spinal stenosis. This is a narrowing of the spinal canal itself through the lower back.

Sciatica is also the result of degenerative disc disease. What this means is that the discs that act like cushions between the vertebrae in the spinal column deteriorate, causing the discs to rub directly against one another.

Pregnancy can also lead to sciatica in some cases. In addition, another condition called spondylolisthesis does result in sciatica in some instances. This is a condition in which the vertebrae end up out of proper alignment due to one of slipping forward of another.

Treating the Pain of Sciatica

Prescription medications and even over the counter drugs are among the items used to combat the pain associated with sciatica for some patients. With that noted, more and more individuals are turning to physiotherapy as a means of addressing the pain associated with sciatica. Individualized treatment and therapy regimens are fashioned for a person afflicted with sciatica, which are designed to lessen or eliminate the pain associated with sciatica.

Cervical Spine Pain: Identifying the Cause and Implementing Proper Treatment

Cervical vertebrae lateralAn Overview of Cervical Spine Pain: Identifying the Cause and Implementing Proper Treatment
In basic terms, the cervical spine area in the human body is that at a person’s neck. The cervical spine includes discs that provide a natural cushion for the vertebrae that comprise the cervical spine — indeed, the entire spine.

A variety of diseases, conditions and problems can cause pain to radiate or originate from the cervical spine area. These include everything from the aging process itself to trauma or injury to a serious disease. In some cases, a combination of underlying factors jointly contribute to cervical spine pain.

Properly Identifying Pain Associated with the Cervical Spine

cervical shoulder painA common cliché involves something or another being a pain in the neck. Although pain associated with the cervical spine can express itself in a person’s neck itself, there are many instances in which pain associated with a cervical spine issues manifests elsewhere. Pain and discomfort associated with a cervical spine issue, disease or condition can also manifest itself in a person’s shoulders and arms. In addition, a cervical spine issue may not necessarily cause pain, but rather numbness in the neck, shoulders or along the arms.

Treatment of Cervical Spine Pain

Individuals in the United States suffering from pain caused by a cervical spine issue or problem oftentimes resort to medications, including prescription drugs. In addition, they also tend to access more invasive treatments that may be necessary in many cases.

The reality is that physiotherapy, including massage, can prove to be highly effective at addressing pain and other symptoms associated with a cervical spine issue. Indeed, a consistent course of professional physiotherapy oftentimes provides long term and consistent relief from pain for a person afflicted with a cervical spine issue.

A physiotherapist is able to develop a comprehensive treatment regimen for a person afflicted with a condition in the cervical spine that is causing pain. Each patient is provided with a unique course of therapy and treatment specific to that individual’s unique needs, goals and objectives.

When a person is afflicted with pain in the neck, shoulders or arms (or suffers from numbness, particularly on a persistent basis), taking a proactive stance is crucial. By taking a proactive approach to pain management, a person is able to obtain relief from that pain more quickly. In addition, a proactive consultation with a professional like a physiotherapist is a vital step to ensure that a serious disease is not the underlying cause of the cervical spine problem.