Treatment for Whiplash

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Whiplash


Treatment for Whiplash:

Treatment for Whiplash
Treating Whiplash Injury

Although treatment for whiplash varies from person to person and from accident to accident, there are some principles which are the same throughout every condition and treatment.

So, where should you start with your treatment for whiplash? Firstly, I suggest that the first step is to understand just what whiplash means - and the types of whiplash symptoms that appear. With this knowledge, your treatment will be much more effective.

The basic principles for Whiplash Injury Treatment

Although treatment varies from person to person and from accident to accident, there are some principles which are the same throughout every condition and treatment.

I have included them below along with recommendations. BUT - always remember to receive expert medical attention following any whiplash-type injury.

  • I recommend ice treatment for the first 72 hours. I recommend application for 20 minutes every two to four hours. A simple way of applying ice is a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a wet teatowel to avoid cold burning. You can re-freeze the peas for future applications but I don’t always recommend eating them thereafter!!

  • After 72 hours I recommend that you move onto heat therapy. I use a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel - again to avoid burning. I find that hot water bottles are cheaper and more effective than heat packs you buy in the store. Continue this treatment using similar intervals of application as with the ice treatment until your pain and stiffness have disappeared completely.

I have mixed feelings on medication with regard to muscular conditions, but, where appropriate, medication can be of great help. Your doctor is the best person to advice on the type and amount of medication you need, and this will depend on the severity and nature of your whiplash injury.

However, the doctors I work with commonly recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain killers and muscle relaxants at the early stages of moderate to severe whiplash injuries. However, please do not become dependent or stay on such medications for any length of time.

Physiotherapy treatment for Whiplash

Although some whiplash injuries may not require Physiotherapy treatment, it is my advice always to seek an opinion from a chartered Physiotherapist from the outset so as to avoid any potential problems from evolving. I also feel that where appropriate early physiotherapy intervention is crucial as soon as possible after your accident. The reason for this intervention is that inappropriate immobility (in other words - unnecessarily restricting your neck movement) can lead to further complications with a whiplash condition. I have seen many people who have put off seeing their physiotherapist at the early stages and this has, on occasions, resulted in further movement dysfunctions. These further complications could have been avoided by early Physiotherapy and exercise interventions.

Check it out, then do with or without” - is a motto I follow from day to day in the management of soft tissue and joint injuries.

  • What is Whiplash? - Quite literally whiplash is an injury to your neck and back caused by traumatic force, causing the neck to over flex and over extend. It is this over stretching and compression of the muscles joints and nerves that lead to injury.

  • Symptoms of Whiplash - This article explains some of the symptoms related to whiplash. The type of symptoms you get very much depend on the complexity of the injury.

  • Exercise for Whiplash are very important and need to be specific to each individual case. Early movement of your neck and back is recommended once x-ray examination is clear.

While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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