These are our top five most commonly asked questions about physiotherapy for whiplash from our patients and the answers that we give.

What is it?

Whiplash is an extremely common injury in patients following a road traffic accident.  Sufferers of the condition find it difficult to find a position of comfort particularly when they sit for periods at a desk or even on the sofa in the evenings.  It can be difficult to link the strained feeling in the neck to the car accident initially since pain typically isn’t noticed by patients until a few days after the accident.  Patients often complain of pain on activities which involve holding their arms out in front of them after suffering a whiplash, examples include pushing a pram or a shopping trolley.

What does it feel like?

Patients describe an aching type pain.  It’s a constant niggle rather than a sharp pain.  It mostly affects the base of the neck, the trapezius muscles and the upper back.  Generally it gets worse as the working day goes on.

Can it be treated?

Yes.  Whiplash injuries are a result of a sudden snapping forwards and forceful pulling backwards of the neck.  Sometimes called an “acceleration – deceleration” injury.  They are soft tissue injuries and rarely involve injury to the bony structures of the spine.  Physiotherapy is therefore the most effective treatment for these type of injuries.

What will treatment involve?

A chartered physiotherapist will assess your neck injury and decide on a treatment plan, individual to your specific injuries.  Often a combination of soft tissue techniques, massage and stretching exercises are required to settle the injury.  Patients are often advised to limit, insofar as is possible, the duration of time they spend at their desks.  Exercise such as walking and swimming are often to be encouraged.

How long will it take to recover?

Recovery times for whiplash injuries vary from four weeks to 18 months.  This seems like a lot of variation but it accounts for the varying speeds and forces that patients are struck with.  Physiotherapy will shorten the recovery time significantly whether you’ve had a minor tip or a major collision.