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Whiplash is a common form of neck pain that physiotherapists are very experienced in managing. Whiplash occurs when there is an unexpected force applied to the neck causing it to accelerate and decelerate suddenly. These forces often cause the neck to move far beyond the normal range of movement and can cause damage to the supporting structures of the neck.


How it Occurs:

  • Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash (about 2 in 3 people involved in car accidents develop neck pain)

  • Sudden, hard tackles during sport


  • Hard hit to the head


  • Theme park rides


  • Jolting the neck during a fall


  • Other trauma to the neck/body can also cause whiplash

The intensity of symptoms does not always depend on how severe the whiplash force was as sometimes even a minor bump can cause neck symptoms. The symptoms of whiplash vary depending on a number of factors including the direction of the force applied to the body, the speed of the force, position the neck was in during the event and previous neck injuries.


  • Neck pain or stiffness

  • Feeling that the head is heavy

  • Reduced neck movement

  • Pain in the shoulders or arms

  • Tingling in arms and fingers

  • Pain up into the head

  • Dizziness, headache, blurred vision, pain on swallowing

  • Irritability and difficulty to concentrate



The treatment of whiplash can be very effective, however, it is important to ensure there are no other injuries involved. A physiotherapist will ask you lots of questions and perform a thorough assessment to determine the exact location of your pain. Diagnostic imaging may be required to determine if there are more serious pathologies present, such as a fracture.


Once these are ruled out, it is very important to keep moving after a whiplash injury. Studies show that if you perform regular, gentle movements and avoid prolonged postures, the outcome of whiplash will be improved. Your physiotherapist will assist you to recover normal movement and reduce pain using techniques such as dry needling, massage and joint mobilisations. Your physiotherapist will also provide exercises for your neck which will help it to recover quicker. If there were underlying factors that influenced your neck pain then your physiotherapist will address these as well.


Whiplash responds very well to physiotherapy treatment, so contact the experienced team at 4 Life Physiotherapy for comprehensive assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of your neck injury.


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