Acute whiplash

There are 300 000 new cases of whiplash every year in the UK. The majority of people who experience symptoms after a car accident will be pain free within 3 months.

Only a very small proportion of people feel pain for a longer period of time. The most common symptoms experienced are neck pain, followed by headache and shoulder and arm pain.


Serious physical injury is very rare. The Royal College of Radiologists does not recommend X-Ray unless neurological deficits are present and neck collars are no longer used routinely as it has been shown that their over use can delay recovery.

In the acute stage- the first 48 hours- there are a few simple things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable.

  • Rest and painkillers will help you manage your pain but you need to aim to return to your normal activities as soon as possible. It has been shown that if you can get gently active within 4 days of the accident you will have a better outcome at 6 months than those who take to their bed.
  • Try to return to your normal pre accident level of activity, pacing yourself gradually.
  • Your pharmacist can advise on painkillers. Initially regular use of paracetamol should be trialled, unless you know your system does not tolerate this drug. In this case, or if this proves inadequate, discuss the situation with your pharmacist or GP.
  • Trial using a hot or cold pack to assist in pain relief and see which suits you best.
  • Holding a positive attitude and belief will speed up the healing process and help you build back to your usual activity levels. A minority of people involved in car accident develop post traumatic stress disorder which requires professional psychological support to aid recuperation.

Physiotherapy can help you manage your physical symptoms

Manual mobilisation and soft tissue release can decrease your pain and increase your range of movement and function.

Our team can help you build back the strength and endurance of your muscles and advise you on return to sporting and work activities. Our practitioners are skilled in assisting recuperation following whiplash injury whether caused by road traffic accident or sport.

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