Whiplash Treatment Options

TitleRecommendationRatingInjury TypeCategory
Act As Usual While there is some evidence to support advice to act as usual within tolerable levels, especially in the early stages, more research is needed to describe its effect in the long term. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Active Treatments While there is some evidence to support the use of active treatments especially in the early stages, more research is needed to describe its effect in the long term. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Exercise Following a whiplash injury you are likely to be better off if you perform some type of exercise, rather than avoiding exercise. Although there does not appear to be one type of exercise more beneficial than another, it is best to seek advice from your doctor or health provider before performing exercises. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Multimodal / Physiotherapy Treatment Treatment consisting of more than one approach, i.e. multimodal, may be more effective than individual treatments provided in isolation. It should consist of at least manipulation and/or mobilisation and some form of exercise. Multimodal treatment should be based on an individual assessment and provided by a qualified professional. Acute Allied Health Options
Acupuncture The use of acupuncture as an adjunct to other therapy, in treating mechanical neck pain, may be considered for short term relief of pain and disability. However more research is required in order to recommend its use as a sole intervention and to determine its long term effects. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Education It seems likely that you are more likely to make a speedy recovery if you are provided with the appropriate information, but there is no clear evidence on the best way this should be provided. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Laser The use of laser therapy following whiplash may be considered for short term pain relief. More research is required to determine the parameters that can be useful and the long term effectiveness of laser therapy. Acute Allied Health Options
Manipulation Manipulation may be a useful adjunct to other therapies, provided it is performed in a safe manner by a qualified professional. It does not appear to be effective as a sole treatment. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Medication The evidence to support these medications is unclear. While it seems that pain relieving medication and anti-inflammatory medications may help in symptom management, especially in the short term after whiplash, more research is needed on long term effects. Usage of medications, especially in combination, should be monitored regularly by a qualified and registered health professional such as medical doctor and/or a pharmacist. Acute/Chronic Medical Options
Mobilisation Spinal mobilisation may be useful as an adjunct to other treatments (see multimodal care), however its use as an isolated treatment is not warranted based on the current research evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Psychology (in combination with other rehabilitation) There is some evidence that psychological/psychosocial treatments in conjunction with other rehabilitation treatments are useful for people with chronic whiplash, but more high quality research is needed. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) PEMF may be beneficial following whiplash; however more high quality research is required to substantiate current evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Radiofrequency Neurotomy There is emerging body of evidence to suggest that radiofrequency neurotomy may be beneficial for patients with whiplash injuries whose signs and symptoms are as a result of facet joint problems and of a longstanding nature. Chronic Medical Options
Vestibular Rehabilitation While the evidence base for this treatment is limited, the results are promising. More research is needed to strengthen current evidence and also identify if Vestibular Rehabilitation is useful as a stand alone therapy or used in conjunction with other physiotherapy treatments. Acute Allied Health Options
Botulinum Toxin Based on current evidence, Botulinum toxin cannot be recommended as routine treatment for patients with acute or chronic whiplash who are suffering from neck pain and other associated symptoms. While it may be useful in some instances, more research is required to establish this practice as one which produces consistent and sustainable positive outcomes. Acute Medical Options
Collar The use of a collar is not recommended by research evidence as it may unnecessarily slow recovery. Acute Allied Health Options
Massage The current research evidence does not support the use of massage on its own for the management of whiplash. It may be used as an adjunct to other therapies (i.e. multimodal care) in the short term for pain relief. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Nerve Root Blocks Based on very limited available evidence, it is unclear how useful selective nerve root blocks are for treating patients with whiplash. It is likely to be reserved for people that have not responded to more conservative treatments and have chronic pain. Acute Medical Options
Rest Based on available evidence, rest is not recommended as a treatment for whiplash injuries, especially in the long term. The decision of having rest should be made by the health professional (such as a doctor) in consultation with the individual with whiplash. Acute Allied Health Options
Time Off Work Based on available evidence, time off from work is not recommended as a treatment for whiplash injuries, especially in the long term. The decision of having time off from work should be made by the health professional (a doctor) in consultation with the person with whiplash. Acute Medical Options
Traction Based on available evidence, there is inconclusive evidence to suggest that traction is a viable treatment option for patients suffering from whiplash injuries. While there is emerging evidence to suggest that intermittent traction may be beneficial for patients suffering from neck pain, more research is needed to guarantee this produces consistent positive benefits for patients suffering from whiplash injuries. Acute Allied Health Options
Alexander Technique The use of the Alexander technique cannot be recommended following whiplash due to lack of research evidence. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Cervical Pillow The use of cervical pillows cannot be recommended following whiplash based on the lack of research evidence. Acute/Chronic Life Style Options
Cold Therapy Although there is no direct evidence relating to the effectiveness of cold therapy, recent guidelines suggest that it may be used in conjunction with other manual and physical forms of therapy (i.e. multimodal care) in the first three weeks after whiplash injury. Acute Life Style Options
Dry needling The effects of dry needling have not been fully evaluated and hence cannot be recommended for whiplash. Acute/Chronic Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) The use of EMS for whiplash is not recommended due to limited current research evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Electrical Nerve Stimulation/TENS The use of TENS for whiplash is not recommended due to limited current research evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Electromyography (EMG) The use of EMG cannot be recommended following whiplash due to lack of research evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Feldenkrais The use of Feldenkrais following whiplash cannot be recommended due to lack of research evidence. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Galvanic Current The use of galvanic current for whiplash cannot be recommended based on the current research evidence. Acute Allied Health Options
Heat Therapy Although there is no direct evidence relating to the effectiveness of heat therapy, recent guidelines suggest that it may be used in conjunction with other manual and physical forms of therapy (i.e. multimodal care) in the first three weeks after whiplash injury (but avoided for the first 48-72 hours). Acute Life Style Options
Herbs / Supplements The use of herbs or supplements following whiplash injury cannot be recommended due to a lack of scientific evidence. More research is required. Acute/Chronic Allied Health Options
Hypnosis The use of hypnotherapy following whiplash cannot be recommended due to lack of research evidence. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Injections While there is some evidence to suggest that certain injections (such as intravenous methyprednisolone and lidocaine) can work in some instances, there is just not enough research evidence to confidently say that these injections work for all patients with whiplash consistently. Acute Medical Options
Magnetic Necklace The use of magnetic necklaces for whiplash cannot be recommended based on the current research evidence. Chronic Life Style Options
MedEx The use of MedEx for whiplash cannot be recommended due to a lack of scientific evidence. More research is required. Chronic Life Style Options
Meditation There is presently no evidence that meditation can help with reducing whiplash symptoms, therefore its use cannot be recommended. Chronic Life Style Options
Myofascial Release Due to the absence of rigorous high quality scientific evidence, myofascial release cannot be recommended for whiplash. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Pilates Pilates cannot be recommended as an effective treatment for whiplash, either in the short or long term, due to the lack of scientific evidence. Chronic Allied Health Options
Posture Correction Although a small study on one patient found CBP to be effective, its routine use cannot be recommended based on this study alone. Learning how to sit and stand correctly may be useful in conjunction with other treatments, especially if there has been no improvement already. Acute Allied Health Options
Prolotherapy The use of prolotherapy for whiplash cannot be recommended based on the limited current research evidence. Acute Medical Options
Relaxation Techniques The use of relaxation for whiplash cannot be recommended based due to the lack of scientific evidence. Acute Life Style Options
Rolfing The use of Rolfing cannot be recommended following whiplash due to lack of high quality rigorous research evidence. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Shiatsu The use of Shiatsu cannot be recommended following whiplash due to lack of research evidence. Acute Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Ultra-Reiz Current As there is very little evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment, it cannot be recommended for all patients suffering from whiplash. Acute Allied Health Options
Ultrasound Currently there is no evidence to support the use of ultrasound following whiplash. However it may be used as an adjunct to manual therapy and exercise (i.e. multimodal care) in the first three weeks. Acute Allied Health Options
Work Alteration Due to the absence of rigorous high quality scientific evidence, work alteration cannot be recommended for whiplash. More research is needed in this area. Acute Allied Health Options
Yoga The use of yoga following whiplash cannot be recommended due to the lack of scientific evidence. Chronic Life Style Options
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