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Could I have a whiplash injury?

Whiplash injuries are often associated with road traffic collisions, but they can result from any event which causes excessive or rapid hyperextension, hyperflexion, compression or rotation of the neck. Whiplash events can cause damage to a number of structures in the head and neck including muscles, joints, ligaments and even nerves that pass through the spine.

These injured tissues can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Most common is neck stiffness and pain which may spread to the shoulders or arms in 84% of people. Headaches are also a common occurrence, in up to 83% of people following a whiplash injury. Rarer symptoms may include hearing or visual changes, dizziness, memory problems and jaw pain. Collectively these injuries are classed as Whiplash associated disorder.

As osteopaths we can often help with recovery of many symptoms associated with whiplash injuries. However, in some circumstances referral for further investigation may be required, this may include imaging such as MRI. For this reason it is important for us to perform a thorough examination to accurately diagnose which tissues have been affected before osteopathic treatment.

Treatment of whiplash injuries is often very similar to how we approach other neck related complaints and usually includes advice on how to best manage your symptoms and then a variety of hands-on techniques such as mobilisation, manipulation, soft tissue massage and muscle energy technique as well as some gentle exercises to do at home. Sometimes cranial osteopathy may be of benefit especially when pain is more severe.

What to do if you have a whiplash type injury?Firstly if you have been involved in a traumatic accident, fall or incident, it’s a good idea to have yourself checked over by a medical professional. This is to ensure there are no severe injuries you may be unaware of.

Once you have the all clear from your medical professional you can rest assured that in most cases recovery usually occurs within 2 to 3 months. 

  • You will likely be in some discomfort, but it is important to know that this is normal during the process of the tissues healing.

  • Its important to maintain as normal activity levels as possible for optimal healing and recovery. In most cases immobilisation is not recommended.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about managing your neck pain, book in to see one of our osteopaths.

Billy Aylmore, Osteopath, The Orchard Clinic. Call 01234 949858 or


APTA, 2017. Neck Pain: clinical practice guidelines linked to the international classification of functioning, disability and health from the orthopaedic section of the American Physical Therapy Association. American Physical Therapy Association.

National institute for health and care excellence, 2018. Neck pain - whiplash injury: What are the signs and symptoms of whiplash? Last revised in October 2018

NSW Government, 2014. Guidelines for the management of acute whiplash-associated disorders for health professionals.


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