How Physical Therapy Can Help With Whiplash Recovery

West Windsor Physical Therapy

If you are wondering how physical therapy can help with whiplash recovery, you’re not alone. Sometimes it develops into something more persistent. A 2022 article in Frontiers in Pain Research reports that among the millions of patients who suffer a whiplash injury, 50% develop a condition called whiplash-associated disorder (WAD).

That same study reports that 15% of those patients report long-term pain. But relief is possible. This article explains how physical therapy for whiplash can help with recovery and what that involves.

If you have whiplash and are considering physical therapy in NJ, keep reading to find out more about the impact, origins, and treatments related to whiplash.

Whiplash Affects Many Americans Each Year

Whiplash remains prevalent among Americans. The Mayo Health System reports that almost three million Americans develop whiplash annually. Once it occurs, it often persists. 

Causes of Whiplash

The Cleveland Clinic defines whiplash as an injury caused by a sudden, jerking motion. The clinic also says that a severe whiplash prognosis can last for several months. A 2023 study by Ritchie et al. reports that a rear-end car accident is the most common way to get whiplash.

Sports and falls can also cause whiplash.

Whiplash Results in the Following Damage

The Cleveland Clinic says that whiplash affects the soft tissues of the vertebrae. Those tissues formulate a complex network of muscles and other internal structures. Whiplash affects those internal structures by causing:

  • Inflammation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tissue damage

Tournier et al. reported in a 2016 BMC Public Health article that five years after whiplash occurs, many patients still rate their quality of life as poor. The same study says that some patients experience lifelong disability because of their neck injuries. This is no way to live.

First, physical therapy has shown improved pain results for patients who use it to treat pain. A 2023 article in Physiotherapy: Theory and Practice shows that patients prefer PT focusing on mental health, emotional health, and self-awareness. 

The following guidelines cover how physical therapy can help with whiplash recovery.

An Assessment Helps Create the Right Whiplash Treatment for You

The following explains how our physical therapy practice in New Jersey can help you with whiplash recovery.

Before beginning whiplash treatment, the therapist will review your health records and perform an examination. You might undergo a diagnostic test. The physical therapist will discuss treatment goals with you.

You will also learn how evaluations work and make a schedule you can follow. These insights create an effective personalized treatment program. This framework sets you up for gains.

Active or Passive Therapy

Physical therapy for whiplash is active or passive. If your whiplash injury is acute, you don’t have the strength to perform movements, at least not yet. The physical therapist will need to increase your circulation with hands-on, passive treatments like:

  • Acupuncture
  • Ice therapy
  • Massage
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

Once you progress — or if you don’t need passive therapy — you will learn how to perform exercises that improve your flexibility, strength, and range of motion. That could include working with weights and stretching. You might also find that your sessions include passive and active treatments at various points of your physical therapy journey.

Movement Creates Possibility

Some of the treatments you encounter in therapy will feel uncomfortable. However, it is important to remember that a physical therapist creates a treatment protocol based on your injuries and goals. While the work might feel uncomfortable, it focuses on the areas you need to move.  

The movement can also inspire confidence. This is important because whiplash causes some patients to feel weak and compromised. Being able to increase the amount of weight you use in a session or seeing adjustments in how you move will improve how you perceive yourself. You will see that your goals are possible and that you don’t have to lose your life because you have whiplash.

Physical Therapy Home Work

Your treatment program will more than likely include a home routine. Practicing at home helps patients make and retain gains in between sessions. You should follow this routine closely for the best results.

Treatment Evaluation and Changes

Your physical therapy journey will allow your therapist to evaluate the treatment program and whether it is helping you. If you are improving, you will move on to more advanced work. But if you don’t make improvements right away, the physical therapist should develop a new comprehensive care plan. It is not your fault if you can’t perform an exercise or treatment plan.

It just means that a different approach would work better.

This is also important to remember if you hit a plateau. You might find that you can do the work you have been doing, but you can’t move past it. If this happens, your physical therapist will devise a way to help you move past that stage.

Contact Align Health & Wellness for a Comprehensive Approach to Whiplash Recovery 

If you need help with whiplash in New Jersey, then Align Health & Wellness might be able to devise a physical therapy protocol that helps your condition. Align Health & Wellness works with many whiplash patients each year. Our protocol relies on education and physical manipulation. Our New Jersey physical therapy sessions could offer a geographically convenient, effective difference in how you function and feel.

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available. To make an appointment, call us at 609-799-8444.

 Do you need a referral for physical therapy? Find out here.


What are the symptoms of whiplash?

The symptoms of whiplash include neck pain. However, whiplash has other symptoms. Align Health & Wellness treats whiplash in NJ.

Can I get whiplash from a fall?

Yes, you can get whiplash from a fall. Sudden, forceful jerky movements can cause whiplash. Align Health & Wellness works with whiplash patients in NJ.

Can physical therapy for whiplash help with pain?

Physical therapy can help with pain. It involves physical therapy treatment. Align Health & Wellness offers physical therapy in NJ.

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