Whiplash is a term that describes neck pain caused by a sudden movement of the head forwards, backwards or sideways. It is caused by and often occurs after a sudden impact such as a road traffic accident, where the neck is jolted at speed with the force causing over stretching of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck. Whiplash can occur after an accident whether it is at high or low speed, as well as after a fall or a trauma to the head. Sports such as Rugby or boxing can also be the cause of whiplash with blows to the head experienced. 

Common symptoms of whiplash include:   

  • Neck pain and stiffness  
  • Tenderness over the neck muscles  
  • Reduced and painful neck movements  
  • Headaches  

Symptoms of whiplash often take several hours or days to present, and will often gradually get worse over a couple of days before starting to improve. To reduce the symptoms of whiplash its important to keep  moving the neck, even though it may be painful, rather than keep it still or using a neck brace/ collars as this will often slow recovery and cause your neck to become increasingly stiff.  

The use of painkillers, such as paracetamol or Ibuprofen, is advised. Seek advice from your pharmacist or GP if you are unsure about any medications.   

Rarely whiplash can last for several months, and this is known as chronic whiplash or late whiplash syndrome. Please see the chronic neck pain section for further information and advice for this.  

Neck Mobility Exercises

Neck Chin Tuck Exercise Lying

Neck Chin Tuck Exercise Sitting

Isometric Neck Strengthening Exercises