March 26th, 2019 by TLOC Team

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a type of neck injury caused by a sudden unexpected backward and/or forward jerking movement of the head, resulting in damage to the soft tissues (e.g. muscles, ligaments, discs, nerves) of the neck.

Although whiplash is most commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, it can also be caused by other activities or injuries, such as high impact collisions in contact sports, accidental falls or stumbles, and head trauma.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash

Signs and symptoms usually appear within the first 24 hours of the initial trauma.


The most common whiplash symptoms are neck pain and tenderness, loss of movement in the neck, and neck stiffness.

Other symptoms include pain or tenderness in the shoulders, arms or back, as well as dumbness or tingling in the arms and hands, dizziness, blurred vision, and fatigue.

Less commonly, whiplash can cause poor concentration or memory, and sleep disturbances (insomnia). Some patients may become depressed if their pain does not get better after several months.

How is whiplash diagnosed?

During your initial assessment at The London Orthopaedic Clinic (TLOC), the doctor will take a careful medical history and perform a thorough physical examination of your neck and upper body.

You may be referred for specialised imaging tests such as CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. X-rays may also be used to check for damage to the bones and joints.

What sort of treatment can I expect?

Treatment of whiplash can involve a combination of different approaches, such as short-term use of pain-relieving medications (e.g. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs] like ibuprofen and naproxen), physiotherapy, massage, and ultrasound treatment.

Depending on the MRI or CT scan results, treatment sometimes includes injection therapy to the neck.

Alternative treatments such as osteopathy and acupuncture can help in some cases, and chiropractic treatment may also be effective.

Home stretching exercises are very important for maintaining the normal range of movement of the neck and preventing stiffness, and these are usually prescribed by the doctor.

What happens if I don’t get treatment for whiplash?

Although most cases of whiplash aren’t serious or life-threatening, the condition can worsen over time if left untreated. This can lead to chronic (long-term) pain and stiffness, prolonged disability, and reduced quality of life.

Most experts would recommend that you seek professional medical advice in case of suspected whiplash, even if the pain is not severe.

Services at TLOC

Our expert team at TLOC offers a full range of services, from initial assessment and diagnosis, to individualised treatment, rehabilitation, advice, and follow-up.

We are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality of care and best possible experience throughout the patient journey.

Patients with whiplash are often anxious and worried about their injuries. Importantly, TLOC will arrange all your bookings for scans, blood tests, and other medical investigations, leaving you more time to focus on yourself and your recovery. All diagnostic services and physical therapies are performed in-house or at our partner institutions nearby.

Whiplash is a painful, often debilitating condition that may have a significant effect on the patient’s life and mobility. However, with appropriate treatment and care, most patients can return to normal daily activities within a few weeks of the initial incident, and the majority make a full recovery.

Please note that the information provided above is intended as a general guide only. If you are concerned about your health or recovery, please contact TLOC for further assistance and advice.