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What is Whiplash? 

Whiplash is a neck injury that is caused by an impact or blow that forces your head to jerk forward or backward. The sudden force that causes the neck muscles to stretch, may tear the muscles and tendons in your neck, leading to a neck strain.

Whiplash most often occurs in car accidents, specifically in a rear-end collision. However, whiplash can also result from sports accidents, physical abuse, or other trauma. 


What are the Symptoms of Whiplash? 

The most common symptoms of Whiplash are: 

  • Pain and tightness in the neck when moving your head 
  • Reduced range of motion 
  • Muscles of the neck may feel hard or knotted
  • Headaches 
  • Slight pain in the shoulders
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleep disturbance

The following symptoms may also be associated with Whiplash injury: 

  • A sensation of pins and needles in the arms and legs
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Jaw pain

The symptoms of whiplash may appear immediately after the blow or may take hours or days to appear. Most people recover from whiplash after a few months; however, a few suffer from chronic pain. 


Who is Prone to Whiplash? 

Anyone who has been in a motor accident, especially in a rear end collision is at risk of suffering from whiplash. Other people at risk include amateur and professional athletes who often suffer blows to their head and neck; such as footballer tacklers.

Roller coasters and other amusement park rides have been known to cause whiplash injury. Physical abuse is another cause, especially when one has been punched or shaken. Whiplash can also occur during everyday activities; for example, jolting the neck when one trips or falls.

Studies have found that whiplash is more common in women than men; as their neck muscles are not as strong as men’s. People from the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of developing whiplash injury after an impact or blow. 




This technique involves locating the heart of the trigger/tender point. When this is compressed it may well trigger a specific referred pain map (preferably reproducing your symptoms). This technique involves applying direct, gentle and sustained pressure to the point:


1. Identify the tender/trigger point you wish to work on (see illustration above).

2. Place the host muscle in a comfortable position, where it is relaxed and can undergo full stretch.

3. Apply gentle, gradually increasing pressure to the tender point until you feel resistance. This should be experienced as discomfort and not as pain.

4. Apply sustained pressure until you feel the tender point yield and soften. This can take from a few seconds to several minutes.

5. Steps 3-4 can be repeated, gradually increasing the pressure on the tender/trigger point until it has fully yielded.

6. To achieve a better result, you can try to change the direction of pressure during these repetitions.


There are many reasons why you might have trigger points, so it is important to consider your trigger point pain in the context of the rest of your body. It must be stressed that the techniques offered on this page are not a substitute for therapy from a qualified practitioner; although aches and pains from trigger points are common, there can sometimes be an underlying pathology. It is advisable to always seek a proper diagnosis from a qualified medical practitioner or experienced manual therapist. 




Stretching is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should begin as soon as pain allows and be continued throughout the rehabilitation program and beyond - Good maintenance prevents re-injury. 


  • Look forward while keeping your head up.
  • Slowly move your ear towards your shoulder while keeping your hands behind your back



See: NAT Guide to Treating Whiplash

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