Whiplash Associated Disorders


Injuries to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards and forwards or sideways are referred to as “whiplash”. This is commonly associated with road traffic accidents, especially rear impact collisions [1,2], but can also occur in sporting injuries such as rugby and boxing.

So what exactly happens to the neck during a whiplash injury? Much research has gone into this and it has been found that the neck moves through a characteristic S-shaped curve whereby, typically, extension and compression occurs in the lower parts of the neck and flexion and compression occurs in the upper part of the neck.

Due to the complex nature of a whiplash injury, multiple sites within the neck can be injured, including the ligaments, discs, muscles, joints, nerve, capsules, blood vessels and bones. From a clinical perspective, the main goal is to make the appropriate diagnosis so that the treatment can be tailored specifically to the presenting patient.

The subsequent clinical syndrome of “whiplash”, or “Whiplash Associated Disorders”, includes headaches, neck pain, mid back pain and shoulder pain. Other poorly explained symptoms may also be verbalised such as dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and blurred vision. These symptoms are often reported hours or days after the actual injury.


At Bodymotion, we frequently encounter patients who suffer with whiplash associated disorders such as neck pain, headaches and shoulder girdle pain.

At the first consultation, the chiropractor will take a full case history and perform specific orthopaedic and neurological tests to ascertain which structures may be causing your neck pain and if any further tests are required, such as x-rays or MRI scans. From here, a diagnosis or cause of the neck pain will be explained and, in most cases, treatment can then be initiated.

If you do not have a condition that is likely to respond well to chiropractic treatment or requires specialist referral, then we will make the appropriate referral to your General Practitioner or one of our Medical Consulting Team.

In the early stages of care, most treatment and advice is directed at easing inflammation and restoring range of motion in the neck through spinal mobilisation, manipulation, soft tissue work (massage), traction and postural advice. In the latter stages of care, we focus on progressive rehabilitation, which may involve strengthening the injured neck musculature.

Manipulation for whiplash associated pain has been recommended in a report by the Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010 Task Force on Neck Pain and its Associated Disorders published in Spine in 2008 (Guzman et al, 2008).

In addition, the Bronfort Report 2010 supports chiropractic intervention in the treatment of Whiplash Associated Disorders.

If you are currently suffering with whiplash and have any questions, please contact one of our chiropractors who will be happy to help.

1) Amevo B et al: Instantaneous axes of rotation of the typical cervical motion segments: A study in normal volunteers . Clin Biomecahnics 6:111-117, 1991.

2) Aniss AM. et al: Changes in perceived heaviness and motor commands produced by cutaneous reflexes in man. J physiol 397: 113-126.


Our team of chiropractors and massage therapists are on hand to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch today via enquiries@body-motion.co.uk or on +44 (0)20 7374 2272.

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