Whiplash – Neck Pain

Our Physiotherapist or Chiropractor can help you!

Back and neck problems are extremely common nowadays, one’s posture and eating habits play an essential role in developing this pain. However, whiplash is quite different from the usual back pain, neck pain, or shoulder impingement that can be developed with long work hours and sit in a bad posture for a longer time.

The neck is one of the most delicate parts of our body and is susceptible to severe damage due to jerks and sudden movements. The reason for this is our spinal cord that is vulnerable to sudden movements. One of the problems caused by jerks is whiplash, this article by Pillars of Wellness will help you understand your problem in detail so that you can follow a course of action and get rid of the ailment.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a common neck problem that occurs to the rapid backward and then the forward movement of the neck. This basically accelerates the spinal cord and then decelerates it which causes a strain to the muscles around the neck area. WebMD describes whiplash as neck strain but minds you, neck strain and neck sprain and not one and the same thing even if they sound the same. The strain is caused by the stress of muscles in a certain area while a sprain is the rupture or tearing of ligaments and tissues.

Whiplash appears in many different forms and ways. Sometimes, the moment you undergo sudden movements, you feel the whiplash kicking in while at other times it might take a few hours to develop and start hurting. In many cases, whiplash is so minor that it comes and goes without severe pain or discomfort. Anyhow, treatment of whiplash is extremely important as if ignored, it can develop into a chronic ailment that takes months to fix and get rid of the pain.


The most common reason for a whiplash neck pain is motor injury according to the medicine net. A very forceful collision that causes the neck to move backward in one sudden movement and then again to its own position in another sudden movement. This happens usually in back collisions.

Another cause of whiplash is a sudden blow to the head that initiates the back and forth movement of the neck. This movement is so fast that it cannot be contemplated with the naked eye. Special slow-motion cameras are needed to view the dynamics of the motion. With the help of these cameras, it was seen that an uncomfortable “S” shape is made by the upper and lower vertebrae of the beck which causes the pain.

Apart from this, slipping and hitting your head can also be a cause of the whiplash.


Neck pain: in general neck pain after any sudden movement can be whiplash. The pain can be either mild, severe or just a mere discomfort. It can be spread over an area or accumulated at a center point.

Stiffness: the reduction in the movement of your neck or the disability to turn your neck can be due to whiplash. You might feel your muscles tightened or stiff.

Numbness: the feeling of numbness is an indicator of a severe whiplash. This can be due to the compression of a nerve ended causes by the sudden movement. This feeling of numbness is followed by tingling and weakness in the neck area and radiating in the shoulder and arm area as well Instability: if at any time the neck pain is accompanied by instability this can be due to whiplash. In extreme cases, whiplash can be a combination of neck strain and sprain.

A headache: the stiffness of the neck muscles and the joints in the neck area can result in severe headaches along with neck pain Other symptoms that can indicate whiplash in some rare cases are dizziness, swallowing problems, difficulty in holding one’s neck, insomnia, ringing in ears, and vision problems.

Self-care for whiplash:

If by symptoms you have diagnosed yourself with whiplash and it is not very severe than a little self-care can help you regain your health and get rid of the pain. Some of the ways to care for yourself during the recovery from whiplash are:


Rest: moving around and using your neck while being active can worsen the problem. Mild whiplash is nothing more than a muscle strain but using the muscles, again and again, can increase the strain and worsen the problem. An ideal course of action is to give your neck a rest for a few days.

Ice/heat therapy: if you have swelling around the neck area than using a few ice packs on the area can help the swelling to go down. It also numbs the nerve ending. Heat therapy helps in soothing the muscle and relaxing the ligaments which fasten the healing process.

Over the counter drugs: taking NSAIDs during the process of healing to relieve the pain is a good way to cope with whiplash.


If the symptoms related to whiplash are severe and the pain is next to unbearable, it is advised that you consult the physician. A normal course of action during the treatment involves the following:

Physical therapy: this is carried out by trained personnel in which the affected area is undergone certain healing movements. It also involves healing using eat therapy.

Painkillers: these are given along with any therapy or course of treatment to relieve the whiplash. Basically, they are used to break the cycle of pain.

Chiropractic care: this is a manual manipulation method that uses force and pressure points to relieve the pain and accumulated pressure.

Apart from the above most common methods injections, operations and massage therapy are also used.

How was a patient helped using physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy and physical therapy are the same things. The patient under study is a 55 years old teacher who was facing severe neck pain for almost eight years until she was referred to physiotherapy. With undergoing two sessions per week, she started showing immense improvement. Her symptoms did come back time and again, but the severity was very less. The treatment was continued for 6 months after which her pain went away.

If you experienced any symptoms of Whiplash, please contact us immediately. We can help!