How Physiotherapists Treat Whiplash

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“How do you get whiplash?” Different people have very different answers to this question. Some people believe whiplash is something everyone who has been in a car accident develops. Some think whiplash isn’t treatable. Others think men are more susceptible to this condition than women. These are all myths. A few other myths about whiplash include…

  • “Rest is the best cure for whiplash” – Rest is NOT always the best medicine for whiplash. While rest is an aspect of healing from whiplash, the condition needs to be treated by a healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist. Usually, the sooner a patient begins treatment, the better.


  • “Normal X-rays mean whiplash isn’t present” – Just because a person’s X-rays come back normal, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have whiplash. Chiro Trust’s article Common Whiplash Myths states, X-rays only show the bones in the head and neck region, not the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves.” It is an MRI, not an X-ray, that reveals the condition of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Have you believed any of these whiplash myths?

An Easy Way to Prevent Whiplash

Although whiplash can cause serious health problems, there is an easy way to prevent it: properly adjust the headrest in the vehicle you drive regularly. While this won’t necessarily prevent every case of whiplash, it decreases your chances of developing it should you get into a car accident.

Canada Safety Council wrote, “Drivers and passengers can reduce the risk of whiplash simply by raising their headrests to a safe position, where the headrest is level with the top of the head and 5 to 10 cm from the back of the head. If Canadians followed this simple guideline, the number of neck injuries could be reduced by about 40 per cent.”

Adjusting your headrest takes only a moment but may save you years of pain.

How Physiotherapists Treat Whiplash

It’s important that you don’t attempt to self-treat whiplash. If you feel you may have whiplash, get to a physiotherapy clinic as soon as you can for an evaluation.

A physiotherapist is an expert facilitator of healing from whiplash. According to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s article Whiplash: Prevention and recovery,

“A physiotherapist, in this case, could help you manage your pain through manual therapy and exercise prescription to reduce pain, strengthen those neck muscles that may have been damaged in the accident to prevent any further complications and to encourage a faster recovery. In addition, physiotherapy can help identify potential issues with your posture following the injury, as the structures affected can influence the way you stand, sit or lie down, which can lead to additional problems down the road.”

The CPA article mentioned above also says, “The bulk of your recovery occurs within the first 2 to 3 months following the injury.” This is a short span of time, so it’s vital that you take advantage of the window for healing that you have post-injury.

Do you think you may be suffering from whiplash? If so, and if you live near Winnipeg, contact Elite Sports Injury Physiotherapy Clinics to set up an evaluation with a physiotherapist.


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