Neck Pain From a Car Accident: What to do When You Have Suffered Whiplash

What to do When You Have Suffered Whiplash

Whiplash injuries or whiplash associated disorder (WAD) are most simply described as neck pain following a car accident. These injuries are unpleasant and can affect your life. The good new is, there are things you can do to help yourself. This is a short guide of the most important things to do for yourself once you have suffered neck pain from a motor vehicle accident.

Go See Your Doctor

While most whiplash injuries fall under a category of mild (approximately 90% are a Grade 2 out of 4), your doctor can identify any risk factors for a more serious injury. In some cases, they may think an x-ray is necessary. In many cases, they will recommend some type of rehabilitation and manual therapy (physio/massage/chiropractic). Be sure to follow your doctor’s advice and, if things are not improving, follow up for a second visit in about 10-14 days.

Move, But not too Much

Check out Canadian chiropractic practice guidelines for treatment from a whiplash recommend active neck range of motion exercises in the early stages (especially the first 7 days) of a whiplash injury from a car accident. Active ranges of motion can include a variety of exercises, but what I often recommend is to look to the right as far as you can without pain, and then look to the left as far as you can without pain. Repeat these instructions about 3-4 times per hour. Over the course of a few days, you will likely notice that you can turn your head further without pain. Any injury, but especially a whiplash injury, can make someone feel quite tired. Keep this in mind. Regular exercise can be helpful in recovery, but take your normal exercise load (eg: 60 minutes of resistance training), and cut down the duration by 50%, and the load (or weight) by 25-50%. And gradually work your way back up to your normal routine.

Try Not to Take it Personally

Car accidents are very stressful and traumatic. There are often feels of regret, shame, and anger. Those feelings may amplify your pain. The sooner we can get over those feelings, the simpler the problem becomes. If these feelings become too much to handle, please talk to your doctor about options for treatment.

Find a Good Team

A question often asked is “who should I go see?”. There is no right answer to that question. A medical doctor is essential to rule out any serious conditions, and some medical doctors may be helpful in shedding light on the right types of practitioners to see. Most evidence on the topic suggests that some version of multimodal care is best. This means that more than one practitioner should be part of your care team. It is helpful if those practitioners have a similar style. A clinic that offers multiple services, like chiropractic, physio, and massage in one place is often a good sign that practitioners will suggest care that may be most helpful.

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Find out What Helps you Feels Better, and Do it!

Active coping has been shown to be associated with a shorter recovery from neck pain from a car accident. Helping yourself seems to be more beneficial than someone helping you. This is where a relieving exercises program becomes very valuable. Keep this in mind before spending a day on the couch because of your pain.

And Finally…

Take Progress One Day at a Time.

Some of you suffering with neck pain from a car accident will see quick results and a fast resolution of symptoms, and that is great. Many people will tight, and sore for many months, with a slow rate of improvement. Try not to get too discouraged from a setback or aggravation. Stay positive, work hard, and find good people.


Our Kinesiologist can help you recover from whiplash injuries following a car accident. Book an Active Rehabilitation appointment today!


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