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What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is neck pain and stiffness resulting from a sudden and excessive movement beyond the normal range, typically occurring when the head is forcefully thrust backward and then forward. It can lead to stretching or tearing of neck muscles and ligaments, potential nerve damage, and, in rare cases, fractures.

What Causes Whiplash?

Whiplash is typically caused by a sudden, forceful back-and-forth movement of the head and neck, commonly resulting from motor vehicle accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. Other causes may include sports injuries, or falls, for example.

What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?

Whiplash symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, with possible muscle discomfort in the head, chest, shoulders, and arms. Headaches, dizziness, and back pain may also be present. Symptoms might not present immediately but may appear days after the injury or resurface after temporary relief.

A more serious injury might be indicated by:

  • Severe pain in the neck.
  • Pain down one or both arms.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, chest, or legs.
  • Weakness in the arms, hands, or legs.
  • Inability to move the head.

How is Whiplash Diagnosed?

To determine the extent of an injury, your GP may ask questions about the neck injury along with an examination of the head and neck. X-rays may be necessary to ensure there are no broken bones in the neck. Additionally, an imaging test such as an MRI or CT scan might be required to identify other potential injuries.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Whiplash

Physiotherapy plays a key role in treating whiplash injuries, focusing on pain reduction and improving mobility. Treatment often involves neck exercises to enhance strength and flexibility, massage and mobilisation, and heat or cold therapy. Physiotherapists also educate patients on posture correction, offer ergonomic advice, and guide a gradual return to normal activities. Pain management techniques and strategies for coping with discomfort are integrated into the physiotherapy process. The goal is to address specific symptoms, promote healing, and restore neck function.

If you are seeking physiotherapy treatment for whiplash, make an appointment with a UPMC physiotherapist today. No referral is required. View our list of locations below for physiotherapy services close to home.

UPMC Physiotherapy Locations

We offer physiotherapy services to treat whiplash at the following UPMC locations:

Make an Appointment

You do not need a referral to make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists. To schedule an appointment with UPMC Physiotherapy Services, please contact us at one of the locations listed above.

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