The New Science of Whiplash

…and how to put the knowl­edge to work for you

Neck pain, mus­cle ten­sion headaches, and pinched nerves can show up after an auto acci­dent, some­times months — or even years — lat­er.

Doc­tors used to be frus­trat­ed try­ing to treat whiplash patients.

But now we know much more about whiplash, the type of long-term dam­age it can cause, and the best types of whiplash treat­ment.

whiplash injury


Here are three impor­tant facts revealed by the lat­est research:

  1. Whiplash suf­fer­ers are like­ly to have mus­cle knots in the mus­cle right below the base of the skull (the semi­spinalis capi­tus).  Prob­lems in this mus­cle can cause neck pain, headache, or facial pain.
  2. Even years after an auto acci­dent you can have restrict­ed range of motion of the neck.  That’s because of dam­age to the impor­tant spinal joints in this region.  The prob­lem can per­sist for years if it isn’t tak­en care of prop­er­ly.
  3. Whiplash vic­tims are also more like­ly to have weak neck mus­cles, espe­cial­ly in the small­er, deep­er mus­cles that guide neck pos­ture.  Instead, the larg­er mus­cles take over and devel­op tight­ness, mus­cle knots, and pain.

The good news is that research (con­duct­ed by AR Gross and oth­ers and pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Rheuma­tol­ogy in 2007) points us towards the best treat­ment for whiplash.  Their arti­cle cov­ers a vari­ety of treat­ment meth­ods for neck pain, headache, and pinched nerves, three com­mon whiplash symp­toms.

Only one type of treat­ment was backed by the strongest lev­el of evi­dence: the com­bi­na­tion of

  • exer­cise,
  • stretch­ing and
  • hands-on (man­u­al) ther­a­py to mobi­lize the joints and elim­i­nate the mus­cle knots.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

Neck exer­cise — can we do bet­ter?

Chi­ro­prac­tic supe­ri­or for neck pain



About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website,, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at or at 212-400-9663.
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