Whiplash

Editor: Dr. Amy Spencer, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC, CSCS, CKTP - A Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Certified Manual Therapist. Owner and Physical Therapist, Specialized Physical Therapy in North Reading, MA.

Whiplash is neck pain that commonly occurs following an auto accident. This is typically caused by hyperextension and/or hyperflexion. In an accident, the Specialized Physical Therapy Whiplashhead is forced backward and/or forward rapidly beyond the neck’s normal range of motion. The unnatural and forceful movement affects the muscles and ligaments in the neck. Muscles may react by tightening and contracting, which results in muscle fatigue, pain, and stiffness.

Causes of Whiplash:

  • Auto accidents – Whiplash is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident where your car is not moving and it is struck from behind without notice.
  • Physical abuse – Whiplash may also result from incidents of being punched or shaken. Whiplash is one of the injuries sustained in shaken baby syndrome.
  • Contact sports – Football tackles and other sports-related collisions can sometimes cause whiplash injuries.

Symptoms of Whiplash:

The most common symptoms related to whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headache
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Jaw pain
  • Arm pain and weakness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Back pain

Treatment of Whiplash:

Physical therapy is the most common treatment for whiplash. The type of physical therapy will depend on the wide variety of possible symptoms. Quite often, the initial treatment for whiplash is a soft cervical collar to reduce the range of motion of the neck and to prevent any additional injuries. More recent studies have shown that prolonged immobilization actually slows down the healing process. Patients involved in early range of motion exercises have shown more reliable and rapid improvement in their symptoms.

It appears that excessive rest and immobilization will result in a greater chance of chronic symptoms and pain. Immobilization also causes muscle atrophy (muscle wasting), decreased blood flow, and slower recovery of damaged muscles.

Physical therapy is highly effective following a whiplash injury because it helps you restore range of motion and muscle strength. Manual physical therapy is an essential part of the process and will enable your joints and muscles to move more freely with less pain. Massaging the neck, shoulder, and shoulder blade area will improve circulation, help with the pain, and make it easier to move your neck and upper extremities easier. Modalities such as heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation may be used to decrease any pain or swelling. Your physical therapist will also give you specific exercises designed to help you regain normal use of your arm and shoulder.

SPT is just minutes from Andover, Reading, North Andover, and Wilmington MA

Specialized Physical Therapy is conveniently located in North Reading and also proudly serves residents in Andover, Reading, North Andover, Wilmington, Boxford, Burlington, Woburn, Stoneham, and Methuen.  We offer free and spacious parking located within a few steps away from our clinic’s door.


Schedule Your Appointment Today to Regain Freer Movement and Healthy Living!

Specialized Physical Therapy practices a comprehensive approach to total muscle, joint, and spine health. We are the preferred physical therapy clinic in Greater Boston, because we offer an extensive range of physical therapy services designed to restore your physical strength and mobility while reducing your pain. Our physical therapy clinic sets itself apart by:

  • Providing proven techniques for alleviating minor, major, acute, and chronic pain.
  • Specializing in sports medicine, manual therapy, post-surgical care, auto accidents, prenatal and postpartum conditions, orthopedic injuries and overuse injuries.
  • Maintaining a clean, comfortable, private and quiet clinic, making it ideal for private consulting, educating and performing the latest physical therapy techniques.
  • Focusing on your individual needs, not the bottom line, because we are a small, physical therapist-owned and family-oriented clinic.
  • Treating one patient at a time in our private treatment room to make sure that you get the personalized care and attention you need.
  • Completing your treatment from start to finish with only exceptional doctorate trained and fully licensed Massachusetts physical therapists that have excellent skills, breadth of knowledge, and invaluable experience to help you reach your goals and succeed.


Read Our Patient Successes!