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Whiplash - (Myths and Facts)

By Adam Shelverton
Senior Rehabilitation Consultant

The term ‘whiplash’ applies to a neck injury where the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons and muscles) of the neck are overstretched, (Sprained). This happens when the head and neck are rapidly forced into an abnormal position, typically from car crashes and sudden deceleration. 

The result can be symptoms ranging from pain, loss of movement, headaches and neck / shoulder stiffness.


  • Whiplash injuries only affect the neck. This is not always the case. A whiplash injury can also affect the mid and lower spine.
  • The x-ray looks clear so you can’t have a whiplash injury. An x-ray will indicate if there has been damage to bones. Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues. Only more sophisticated scanning methods will pick this up. 
  • You can only get whiplash from a road traffic collision? As well as motor vehicle accidents, you can receive a whiplash injury on a sports field or even after an unexpected fall. 
  • Bed rest will make you better. Some amount of rest (and perhaps analgesics pain relief may be required), however you need to keep the neck moving to avoid the condition becoming  worse. 



  • Everyday 1,500 people claim whiplash injury, with the total number of  claimants a year now able to fill Old Trafford more than seven times over. 
  • Reported whiplash has risen by nearly a quarter in the last four years, despite the number of road accidents falling
  • Whiplash claims cost £2 billion a year, adding an extra £90 a year to the average motor insurance premium

The proper use of well-engineered head rests dramatically reduces serious neck injuries from vehicle accidents. (See advice below)

Things to consider when adjusting your car head restraint:

1. Is it high enough? The top of the restraint should be even with the top of your head or at least to the top of your ears.

2. Is it close enough? The restraint should be around 5 cm (2 inches) from the back of your head. Closer head restraints are twice as good at preventing injuries as those set too far back.

Your contact

Your contact

Adam Shelverton

Adam Shelverton

Rehabilitation Manager

Tel: +44 (113) 2906321