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Crash! One minute you’re slowing down, the next minute you’ve been rear-ended. Your head bounces forward and snaps back.


Pain is not always experienced immediately. Often it takes a 24 hour period for the muscle spasm to increase and the pain to set in. You’re left with a stiff neck, pain and a headache.

Initially, it is vital to rule out serious injury. A medical consultation and x-ray are essential to rule out spinal fracture or ligament disruption. An immediate regime of rest, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, gentle neck stretches and ice application will help to reduce soft tissue inflammation. Your physician will list the precautions necessary for your specific level of injury.

Obviously, you will visit the ER in the event of a serious collision. However, even an ostensibly “gently’ bumper bash may warrant a medical consultation.

Do not stop all activities. Bed rest is not recommended as research has shown that gentle physical activity, such as slow walks, is more beneficial than bed rest.

Following a whiplash injury, the cervical region (neck) loses its shock-absorbing curve. This tell-tale sign is visible on X-ray and is indicative of whiplash syndrome. The muscle spasm caused by the accident is so extreme that it is strong enough to pull the spine straight. This is not a natural position for the neck. It is painful and can accelerate long term damage to the cervical structures.

normal c spine xrayWhiplash c spine xray

Our Physical Therapists at Atlanta Sports Physical therapy are trained in the immediate safe restoration of intervertebral (spinal) range of motion. The intent is to reduce muscle spasm and restore spinal mobility as soon as possible.

We will educate you in methods to protect your neck during the healing process. This will include the restoration of normal posture.

Early physical therapy intervention will provide you with immediate pain relief and may reduce long term damage caused by the motor vehicle accident.