Rest

Rating

Category: Medical Options

Injury Type: Acute

What is it?

Subsequent to whiplash, some people might want to rest and recover from the injury. This is based on the common notion that rest will help in the recovery of any injury.

How does it work?

It is thought resting provides the opportunity for people with whiplash injures to recover. Resting may help in relaxation, avoid aggravating activities (such as poor, sustained posture at work) and minimise any stress that may result from extraneous circumstances.

Is it effective?

It is widely acknowledged that staying active within pain limits, rather than resting, is important for people with whiplash, especially in the early stages. While no high quality study has explicitly investigated rest as a treatment option, many studies used rest as a dummy (control or placebo) treatment or part of a large number of other treatments (such as collar, ultrasound) when comparing common treatment options. Several high quality reviews report on these studies. Generally, they all agree that resting after whiplash is not preferable. Clinically, however, it is important to take into account pain and other symptoms reported by persons with whiplash. By and large it is thought that resting, such as staying in bed, should not be encouraged for whiplash injuries which are classified as Grade I. In the case of whiplash injuries which are classified as Grade II and III, if persons with whiplash prefer to stay in bed, this should be limited to a handful of days.

Are there any disadvantages?

There is some thought that staying in bed might place the focus on the accident and injuries rather than recovery and healing.

Where do you get it?

While rest can be self prescribed, it is important this is done so in consultation with and advice from a qualified health professional such as doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor etc.

Recommendations

Based on available evidence, rest is not recommended as a treatment for whiplash injuries, especially in the long term. The decision to rest should be made by the health professional (such as a doctor) in consultation with the individual with whiplash.

Key References

  • Hurwitz, E, Carragee, E, Van der Velde, G, Carroll, L, Nordin, M, Guzman, J, Peloso, P, Holm, L, Coˆte, P, Hogg-Johnson, S, Cassidy, D & Haldeman, S 2008, 'Treatment of neck pain: noninvasive interventions; results of the bone and joint decade 2000–2010 task force on neck pain and its associated disorders', European Spine Journal, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 123-152.
  • Motor Accidents Authority 2007, Your guide to whiplash recovery in the first 12 weeks after the accident, MAA, Sydney Australia.
  • Seferiadis A, Rosenfeld M & Gunnarsson R 2004, 'A review of treatment interventions in whiplash-associated disorders', European Spine Journal, vol. 13, pp. 387–397.
  • Verhagen AP, Schoten-Peeters GGGM, van Wijngaarden S, de Bie RA, Bierma-Zeinstra SMA, 'Conservative treatmetns for whiplash', Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, Issue 2, Art. No: CD003338. DOI:10.1002/14651858.pub3.
  • Yadla, S, Ratliff, J & Harrop, J 2008, 'Whiplash: diagnosis, treatment, and associated injuries', Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, vol. 1, pp. 65-68
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