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Whiplash - What Can I Do to Help Myself?

Whiplash or whiplash associated disorders (WAD) is a commonly used term for an acceleration-

deceleration force applied to the neck often occurring in car crashes but may arise from a slip

and fall, a diving accident, or other traumatic injury. The net result is an injury to muscles,

ligaments, joints, and/or nerves in the cervical spine or neck region and possibly a concussion.

This month’s article is intended to spotlight self-help strategies that YOU can do to help manage

this afflicting condition. We HIGHLY recommend downloading “Whiplash Injury Recovery: A

self-management guide” as it covers very important information in the 24 page PDF: (go to: ). It is authored by Professor Gwendolen Jull, the director of

The Cervical Spine and Whiplash Research Unit, Division of Physiotherapy, at The University

of Queensland. In her “message from the author,” she writes the following:

“This booklet aims to assist persons who have had a whiplash injury on the road to recovery. It

provides information about whiplash-associated disorders, an explanation of whiplash, and

exercise program which has been proven to assist in reducing neck pain and advice on how to

manage your neck to prevent unnecessary strain and to assist recovery. The booklet is a self-help

resource to aid recovery and to supplement any care being provided by a health care


In the table of contents, you will see whiplash defined, recovery information, and “helping

yourself” topics followed by posture correction, proper sitting positions, lifting, carrying, and

work instructions, as well as how to go about household activities. This 24-page guide concludes

with exercise instructions followed by formal exercises, how often you should do them, and

things to remember.

Here are some highlights: 1) Most people recover from a whiplash injury at different rates; 2)

Recovery ranges from days to months and occasionally one to two years – the majority recover

fully; 3) Research supports trying to continue with your normal daily activities – modify as

needed and gradually return to normal work, recreation, and social activities; 4) Be adaptive –

make modifications to avoid flair-ups; 5) Some activities hurt, but that doesn’t automatically

mean further injury. If you recover quickly, make modifications as necessary but continue the

activity; 6) You are your BEST resource in the recovery process (stay motivated to fully

recover); 7) Stay active. Try to do as many of your normal activities as possible and gradually

increase the intensity, frequency, and duration until normal function is returned; 8) Try to keep

working – work with your employer and co-workers so you can stay on the job; 9) Don’t skip

simple pleasures – enjoy time with family and friends, participate in social outings, begin or

rediscover a new hobby; 10) Work with healthcare providers (like your doctor of chiropractic) to

gradually introduce and increase exercises to regain motion, strengthen weak muscles, and

improve function; 11) Be aware of your posture; 12) Modify activities to reduce strain during

work and recreation; 13) Be more active / less sedentary to PREVENT neck pain; 14) Take

breaks and change body positions throughout the workday; 15) Arrange your workstation/desk

(monitor position, keyboard / mouse and chair “set-up”) to be more ergonomic; 16) Think about

how you are sitting; 17) Act as usual, be active, be aware (posture, taking breaks, etc.); 18) DO

YOUR EXERCISES (modify according to comfort); 19) Follow the instructions during exercise

training (avoid sharp/knife-like pain); and 20) Communicate with your healthcare provider when

questions arise! Please take the time to download the PDF.

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