How To Manage Whiplash Disorders


Symptoms of whiplash are incredibly common. They can occur following car accidents, injuries on the sporting field or even falls and are characterised most often by neck pain. Stiffness, dizziness, paresthesia/anaesthesia in the upper quadrant and arm pain are reported frequently too. Research demonstrates that half of all patients who suffer whiplash still report injury one year after their accident. PTSD, depression and anxiety, higher levels of disability, pain and reduced physical function are reported in this demographic too.  

The Period Of Recovery Following Whiplash

Recovery from whiplash tends to occur in the first two to three months following the injury. A common question asked in the field of physiotherapy is ‘how can I identify when patients will develop chronic symptoms?” Clinical predictions follow the rule that patients who will make a full recovery experience initial disability scores of less than thirty two per cent. Moderate to severe disability can be predicted with a disability score of over forty per cent, an age greater than thirty four years and a score of more than five on the hyperarousal subscale of the posttraumatic stress diagnostic scale.  

Diagnosis of Whiplash Seriousness 

During a patient’s first consultation they will be diagnosed with pain and disability scores. A psychological evaluation should also be performed, such as asking if the patient is able to sleep through the night or drive again following a car accident. “No” to this question may be an indicator that the patient requires counselling. Patients with whiplash associated disorders often report diffuse symptoms of sensory loss or gain and generalised muscle weakness in the cervical and scapular areas. This should be evaluated in all cases. 

Managing Whiplash 

The most important thing patients with whiplash will be advised is to continue or increase their current exercise regimen. While exercise generally has a small effect on whiplash disorders, it’s certainly better than not doing any. The type of exercise used to manage symptoms of whiplash does not seem to matter, so patients can continue doing the types they like most out of the available motion range exercises. McKenzie exercises, postural exercises, and strengthening and motor control exercises can be used. More research is needed into management of whiplash disorders, as there are currently few effective treatments. Manual therapy can be added to a patient’s management plan as long as the patient benefits from it. 

Contact Erko Physio 

With over 10 years of experience treating patients through recovery and rehabilitation, Erko Physio are the local experts when it comes to developing warm up routines. Our Alexandria physiotherapy is easily accessible from Erskineville, Newtown and Marrickville too. If you need a physiotherapist in Alexandria, Newtown or Marrickville, trust the experts at Erko Physio to help you plan your workout with due care and attention to detail.