Whiplash injury and recovery

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is the common term for acceleration/ deceleration injuries which often occur in motor vehicle accidents such as a rear-end or side impact collision. (see image below) Sometimes this injury caused damage to the muscles and ligaments which support the neck.

whiplash injury


Symptoms may appear immediately after the incident, or a few hours or days later. Recovery rate is also variable, for some, symptoms can settle within a few days, for others it may take several weeks or months. The reason for this variation between individuals is still unclear. However we do know that people who resume their normal daily activities usually recover faster  from whiplash injury than those who markedly change their activity level. For example, those who continue to work (even at a reduced capacity initially) show a better recovery than those who cease work completely.

Treatment of Whiplash injury

  • It is important to establish that there is no bony injury – your doctor will order an x-ray for you if needed
  • Keep moving your neck as normally as possible, without pushing into too much pain
  • Maintain range of motion, move your neck in all directions (rotating side to side, side bending, looking up and down) in a pain-free range to maintain movement
  • Maintain good posture – keep a small curve in your lower back, shoulder blades should be gently drawn back towards the spine, chin should be slightly tucked in.


  • Change position regularly – don’t stay in any one position too long, for example, if working on the computer, try to stand up every 15-20 minutes.
  • Take care not to strain your neck – don’t lift too many shopping bags at once, take care with lifting children, swap sides that you carry handbags or briefcases on etc
  • Symptom management – try using a heat pack (such as a wheat bag) over the neck to help relax the muscles
  • Sleeping position – Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal especially when you have neck pain, try to sleep on your side with a supportive pillow which keeps your neck in a neutral position, or you can try lying on your back.
  • See your physiotherapist – your physio can provide an individualised assessment of  your neck and posture and can provide you with neck strengthening and stretching exercises. Your physio can also help with symptom management by providing massage treatment, and joint mobilisation as needed.


Jull, G., Whiplash recovery: A self management guide, The University of Queensland, 2005

Gold Coast Physiotherapy – Burleigh Heads and Broadbeach Physiotherapy Centres 07 5535 5218


Our Response to Covid-19

This page is up to date to our best knowledge, however, this is a rapidly evolving situation so we apologise for any potential delay in updating this information.

We want to reassure all our patients that we are following stringent infection control procedures in our clinic, and screen all people coming into the clinic, to exclude any patients that have any signs or symptoms consistent with Covid-19, as well as screening any patients that should be in isolation ie recently returned from overseas, or have been advised to isolate due to recent exposure with a known Covid-19 patient.

All our staff have now completed the Department of Health Covid-19 Infection Control Training.

What are we doing to minimise risk?

  • Screening patients for risk factors over the phone or through text messages before they attend appointments. Those with risk factors or symptoms are advised not to attend & to seek medical advice.
  • Hand sanitiser station at the front of the building must be used before you enter.
  • Following stringent infection control measures within the clinic. This includes
    • Disinfecting all beds, door handles, EFTPOS machine before and after each patient use.
    • Linen changed between each patient and commonly touched surfaces through the practice are cleaned regularly throughout the day.
    • Minimising the distances between clients in the waiting room- some chairs are outside undercover.
  • We have advised our team members not to come to work if they have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • We are following all Department of Health recommendations for our type of business.

On the 30th March 2020 – the Australian government issued a statement that “People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.”

The decision to come in for physiotherapy treatment really is an individual one – if you feel that your treatment is medically necessary, and are comfortable with the risks of leaving your home and coming to physiotherapy, then rest assured that when you attend our physiotherapy clinic, we are following our strict infection control processes and doing everything we can to minimise your risk whilst in our care. However, we completely understand if you are not comfortable with coming in for treatment.

TELEHealth Consultations

We are offering telehealth consults and home visits (where suitable) for patients who cannot attend our clinic.

Read more about TELEhealth Consultations here.

Staying Healthy

  • Wash your hands often (and for 20 seconds) with soap and water
  • Cough into your elbow or use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Social distancing practices – Avoiding close contact with others, such as touching, including shaking hands
  • Limit contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick and encourage employees to stay home when sick
  • Get 7-8 hours’ sleep a night to help your immune system stay strong
Please stay safe and take care of each other!

We are monitoring the situation very closely and will make adjustments to our business as we are further informed. Our priority is the health & well being of our patients and our staff. Thanks for your understanding.

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