[rev_slider how-to-treat-whiplash]

Neck Pain?

Whiplash is a serious neck injury that can have a huge impact on your daily life. Something as simple as turning your head can leave you in agony and everyday activities can feel impossible. It is essential that you get effective treatment as soon as possible. The pt Health Whiplash Recovery Program was developed to help you find relief.

Our Whiplash Recovery Program

  • Addresses symptoms such as neck pain, headaches, dizziness and helps prevent long-term effects.
  • Prescribes appropriate stretches, strengthening exercises, and movements that patients can do at home to relieve neck pain.
  • Does not involve medication, painkillers, or require surgery.
  • Actively involves you in the recovery process.
  • Provides preventative strategies to deal with lifestyle, work, and other risk factors.
  • Is also beneficial for post-surgical and post injury recovery.
  • Is covered by most auto insurance and extended health plans.
  • Starts quickly with next day appointment available.

You deserve the best whiplash treatment available. Our goal is to get you back to your normal activity level as quickly and safely as possible.

Our clinical approach involves a comprehensive individual analysis that takes your injury type, condition, risk factors, lifestyle, and work function into account so that you can get well and stay well – now!

Why wait? Research clearly shows that the sooner you start treatment for pain or injury, the higher your chances of feeling relief sooner and less chance of developing lifelong chronic pain.

Whiplash Symptoms

  • Tenderness along the back of the neck and shoulders
  • Difficulty flexing, extending, or rotating the head
  • Muscle spasms in the back and/or front of the neck

Whiplash Rehab

  • Addresses the full range of whiplash injuries (grade 1-3; 4 post-medical treatment)
  • Takes into account the cause of your whiplash, from different types of acute injuries (such as injury in a motor vehicle accident) to degenerative repetitive motion injuries

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Treatment Plan


What is whiplash and how do you get it?

Whiplash is the name commonly given to a neck strain/sprain injury that occurs as a result of a traumatic event. The most frequent cause of whiplash is a motor vehicle accident. Because the degree of neck injury is not necessarily related to the speed that the vehicle was travelling when the accident occurred, even minor fender benders can produce enough energy to cause whiplash in occupants even if they are wearing seatbelts.

Whiplash can also occur from contact sports injuries and other blows to the head. When the neck is strained due to a sudden change in direction – such as in roller coasters, minor bicycle accidents, or slips and falls – whiplash can occur.

Other common causes of whiplash and neck strain are repetitive stress injuries or chronic neck strain – think of how often you use your neck to hold the phone!

How do I know if I have whiplash?

Generally, whiplash is medically diagnosed by a physician, particularly after a traumatic event. Diagnosis comes through imaging by xray, MRI, or CT scan.

However, there are common signs and symptoms that whiplash patients often suffer from, such as:

  • Tenderness along the back of the neck and shoulders.
  • Difficulty flexing, extending, or rotating the head.
  • Muscle spasms in the back and/or front of the neck.
  • Muscle spasms in the back of the shoulders (trapezius muscles).
  • Jaw tightness or difficulty chewing.
  • Headache, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances or fatigue.
  • Severe cases may also cause vision disturbance and ringing in the ears.

Will I need surgery?

Surgery is rarely the answer for whiplash, although the medical treatment for whiplash will depend on the seriousness of the injury. In most cases, the injuries are limited to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

How does the pt Health Whiplash Recovery Program treat whiplash and other neck strains or sprains?

Our Whiplash Recovery Program is geared to manage all musculoskeletal aspects of neck pain and to provide relief. Your pt Health physiotherapist will do a complete analysis. If needed, the physiotherapist will ask you to limit activities that may aggravate or re-injure the neck such as turning the neck a certain way, playing sports, or heavy lifting. They will begin to work on range of motion exercises that will help to restore full function and will prescribe strengthening exercises. These exercises can be done at home to increase function and strength in the injured area. Manual therapy might be used to help with muscle mobilization as well.

When appropriate, massage therapy may be used to help soften stiff muscles. Painless electrical nerve stimulation may be used to help with pain relief. Acupuncture is also particularly effective for pain management and to stimulate the healing process. Therapeutic ultrasound can also be used to help promote the healing of the soft tissue.

If your whiplash is caused by a degenerative condition or repetitive motion injury, focus will be on maintaining or increasing your range of motion. Strengthening and mobilizing exercises will be part of the therapeutic process so that the injured area stays as strong and stable as possible. Your physiotherapist might also work with an occupational therapist that will do an analysis on the physical demands that are placed on you on a daily basis. The occupational therapist may suggest different ways to perform tasks that will prevent the injury from worsening and will allow you to stay pain free.

Why wait?

Research clearly shows that the sooner you start treatment for pain or injury, the higher your chances of feeling relief quickly. At pt Health, our clinicians are recognized leaders in the health care field. Many have respected roles in regulatory bodies, provincial associations, government committees, and mentorship programs. Pt Health clinicians also train other health care professionals through continuing education courses and in post-secondary institutions. We believe our patients deserve the best treatment possible. That is why our clinicians continue to learn, teach, collaborate, and innovate throughout their careers at pt Health.

Pt Health clinicians understand the complexities of pain, injury, and managing ongoing health concerns. We believe that every patient’s experience is unique and important. We have a team of dedicated, compassionate, and committed professionals who work together to make sure that our patients get well and stay well.

Start a Treatment Plan 

Sandra's StorySandra’s story

Sandra is nineteen years old. She’s in her second year of university majoring in civic engineering. During her first year, she rode the bus to school. After one year, she was totally over public transportation. Since she decided to continue to commute to university to save money, she recently bought a used car to help her get to and from school. She’s really enjoying the luxury of having her own wheels.

Hit from behind

Five days ago, Sandra was on her way back home from class when she was rear-ended. She wasn’t going very fast, but the SUV that hit her creamed the back end of her much smaller car. Because of the impact, Sandra’s head snapped forward and back very quickly. She was in shock and disoriented and stayed in her car until the police arrived with paramedics. She told the paramedics that her neck was really sore and they immediately strapped her to a gurney and took her to the hospital for an x-ray.

Diagnosis and Recommendations

Fortunately, the x-ray revealed that nothing was broken or seriously damaged. The ER doctor said she had grade 2 whiplash. He explained that that meant there was musculoskeletal involvement, but that her nerves were fine. He went on to say that he was going to refer her to a physiotherapy clinic close to her house. Sandra’s parents had rushed to the ER as soon as they heard, and her dad said that he wanted Sandra to go to the pt Health physiotherapy clinic that he’d been to a couple of years earlier. Her dad called right away and got her an appointment for the next day.

Beginning of Treatment

Sandra’s physiotherapist examined her closely to assess the full extent of the damage. Since she was in a lot of pain and the injury was still in the acute stage, her physio gave her an ice pack right away to give her some relief. Sandra wanted to know if she should continue wearing the cervical brace she’d been given in the ER. Her physio said that in her case, the answer was no. He explained that it was important that they allow her neck muscles to work the way they were supposed to so that they would stay strong. He also said that cervical braces can sometimes have an influence on spatial awareness and he didn’t want her to wipe out by mistake!

He emphasized that the main goal in treating whiplash is to get her back into her normal activities – everyday stuff involving a normal amplitude of movement – safely but quickly. The physio then recommended acupuncture to help with pain control and explained that they would be treating her very carefully while the injury was still acute. After the first couple of treatments, her physio used an IFS machine for pain control as well.

Her physio said that he would also recommend that she also work with the massage therapist and naturopath – the massage therapist could help with muscle tension and healing and the naturopath could prescribe some natural anti-inflammatories since the medication she had been prescribed in the ER was really irritating her stomach.

On the Road to Recovery

After a few sessions, Sandra was feeling a lot less pain. The naturopath had helped her to find a natural anti-inflammatory that was a lot gentler on her system. The physio told her it was safe to start some gentle manual therapy and started to work on the stabilizing muscles in her neck. He explained that it was important to be sure that the deep muscles were working and that her muscle balance was good. He even started bugging her about her tendency to slouch, saying that good posture was key to a strong neck and a well-aligned physique! She also booked sessions with the massage therapist to keep her muscles supple and to help unlock tension and increase flexibility and healing.


Just over a month later, Sandra is almost back to normal. She continues to see her physio once a week and is now taking supplements the naturopath recommended to help deal with stress from school as well! She even bought her mother a gift certificate for a massage at the clinic. The best news? Sandra is driving a new car. Hers was a write-off and her parents decided to help her buy a newer and bigger one…then told her to keep an eye on the rear view mirror from now on!

Coverage Options

At pt Health, we know that sorting out insurance paperwork can be time-consuming and confusing. We want your focus to be on getting well and staying well. With that in mind, we do our best to help you navigate through the necessary forms. We speak with your insurance providers and we’ll answer any questions you may have about your coverage.

pt Health services are covered by most health care insurance plans.  In most cases, if you are using your extended health care carrier or work plan, we do not require you to pay for your therapy sessions up front.* Instead, we bill your insurance company on your behalf.
If you have extended health care benefits that cover therapy, most auto insurance companies require that your claim be placed through your extended health plan first. Any remaining balances for services are then covered by your auto insurance plan. On your first visit, you may be asked to provide information about your extended health plan. If you do not have extended health care benefits that cover therapy, your treatments may be billed directly through your auto insurance company. For residents of British Columbia, ICBC covers a partial amount of treatment visits. Patients will be asked to co-pay the difference at each visit. If a patient has extended health care benefits, it is possible to claim the difference back.
Although each clinic’s approach to intake, assessment and therapy do vary, generally speaking your physiotherapist will ask a series of questions that will help better describe all of your symptoms in detail. Your physiotherapist can then carry out your assessment. The physiotherapist will examine you physically and discuss the findings, the cause of the problem, and suggest a solution that can effectively treat your health problem.
OHIP covered physiotherapy services must be provided by a designated OHIP physiotherapy clinic. OHIP covers physiotherapy treatments, but does not cover the cost of an initial assessment. To qualify for OHIP coverage, you must have a medial doctor’s referral, be 19 years or younger, be 65 years or older, or be receiving benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program or Family Works. If you have been admitted overnight in hospital for a condition that now requires physiotherapy, you are also eligible.
Some pt Health clinics will be able to bill Blue Cross direction for physiotherapy and massage therapy treatments if you are a member of:

  • RCMP
  • DND
  • Canadian Forces
  • Veterans Affairs

For any treatments that are only partially covered, you may be asked to co-pay the difference at each visit.

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