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BMJ Group Medical Reference

If you start a special exercise programme soon after getting whiplash, you might be in less pain later on. Exercises supervised by a physiotherapist may work better in the long run than resting your neck in a soft collar. However, the research is mixed, and not all the studies looking at exercise are good quality. So we can't be sure that it helps with whiplash.

One study (a randomised controlled trial) found that people who started exercise within 48 hours of hurting themselves were less likely to still be in pain after six weeks. Only a quarter of the people who exercised still had neck problems, compared with half of those who rested their neck in a soft collar. [27] The exercise programme was closely supervised by a physiotherapist.

Another study found that doing exercises and getting advice on whiplash worked better than just getting advice. [28]

But we also found a study that said exercise didn't help. People who got advice from their doctor about moving their neck did just as well as those who got exercise advice from a physiotherapist. [29] The two groups of people had the same amount of pain and headaches, and could do the same amounts of work.

There needs to be more research on whether exercise as soon as possible after a whiplash injury is safe and better in the long run than resting your neck.


randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

For more terms related to Whiplash


For references related to Whiplash click here.
Last Updated: August 15, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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