Carina Central Physiotherapy
Professional Hands On Musculoskeletal Care


What is Whiplash?

Whiplash describes the variety of symptoms that are often reported following an acceleration/deceleration injury to the neck, which is most commonly in the form of a road traffic accident.

What are the symptoms?

Whiplash is a much more complex condition than “just neck pain”. There are often associated symptoms such as neck stiffness, dizziness, numbness as well as headaches. Depending on the nature of the accident there can be additional manifestations of psychological distress. If not resolved, this can have significant impact on quality of life and function.

Do I need to see a Physiotherapist?

Following whiplash, most recovery occurs in the first 2-3 months and this means that guidance from the physiotherapist during this the early stage management may be critical for better long-term outcome.

What is the treatment for Whiplash?

A detailed history often gives an indication of what needs to be examined as well as the prognosis. Physical examination of the neck and surrounding areas will be performed, along with any specific tests for the muscle, neural, visual and balance systems as indicated.

The management of whiplash varies depending on whether the condition is acute or chronic. Physiotherapy treatment would include advice/ guidance to facilitate return to usual activity and therapeutic exercise. There is also a role for manual techniques as part of an individualised treatment approach.

  FREE treatment by being involved as a research participant

Physiotherapist led stress inoculation intervention integrated with exercise for acute whiplash injury: A randomised controlled trial
Sponsored by Griffith University and The University of Queensland

Kim Ibbott and Jennie Wong are selected treating clinicians participating in a University funded research trial about Whiplash

Why is the study important?

Many people who suffer a whiplash injury do develop ongoing pain and disability, and less recognised are the mental health stresses that accompany this condition. These stress related responses are related to poor recovery. Early referral to a psychologist is often not appropriate in the case of acute whiplash, and physiotherapists as first-contact practitioners are ideally placed to address early stress responses following whiplash injuries.

Details of the study

The study compares two groups:
  1. Physiotherapy delivered exercise integrated with management of early stress response post- injury (Stress Inoculation Training)
  2. Physiotherapy delivered exercise alone

Stress Inoculation Training teaches various general coping strategies to manage stress-related anxiety (e.g. relaxation training, positive thinking) and provides information regarding the impact of stress on physical and psychological well-being.

There will be 10 treatment sessions of 50mins duration delivered over a 6 week period.

How do I get involved?

There are selection criteria for inclusion into this study:
  • Whiplash injury of less than 4 weeks duration
  • Currently experiencing at least moderate pain-related disability due to pain
  • Currently experiencing some level of hyper arousal symptoms (e.g. trouble falling asleep, being easily startled)
  • Not currently receiving treatment for whiplash
If you have a whiplash injury and do not want to be part of a research study you can still see one of the physiotherapists who have undergone special training in this area. Make an appointment here.

Sterling M (2014) Physiotherapy management of whiplash-associated disorders. Journal of Physiotherapy. 60(1):5-12