Exercise After Whiplash: Don’t Do It Alone

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Woman with whiplash stretching- Auto Injury NewsCountless studies have pointed to the benefits of exercise for recovering from spinal injuries like whiplash. But is staying physically active enough to combat minor auto injuries? A new study sought to answer that question by comparing general exercise to therapist-led interventions for whiplash.

The study included 216 patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorders. Participants were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments: physiotherapist-led neck exercises; behavioral interventions plus physiotherapist-led neck exercises; or a generalized exercise program.

Researchers discovered that specific neck exercises led by a trained therapist increased patients’ odds of recovery. After six months, 39-44% of patients in the specific exercise groups had a significant reduction in pain, compared to 28% in the generalized exercise group. Adding a behavioral intervention to the neck exercises did not appear to make a significant difference in this study.

What this means is that auto injury patients do indeed benefit from the skills of a medical professional trained in exercise treatments, such as a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic can also use spinal manipulation to enhance exercise therapies. The study also demonstrates that even patients with chronic pain can improve with targeted interventions. Contact a chiropractor to discover how these non-invasive therapies can expedite rehabilitation after an auto accident.


Ludvigsson ML. The effect of neck-specific exercise with, or without a behavioral approach, on pain, disability and self-efficacy in chronic whiplash-associated disorders: a randomized clinical trial. Clinical Journal of Pain 2014.

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