After a high speed accident the muscles, ligaments (tissue connect bone to bone), nerves and joints around the neck, shoulder and throat sustain high levels of force. It is hypothesized that overload to these tissues causes the symptoms following a motor vehicle accident. Symptoms are usually mild for the first day but commonly increase in the days to follow.

It is important to have a full assessment to ensure no neurological involvement or sinister vertebral injury. Once this has been cleared you can begin graded exposure to range of motion and strengthening. Not so long ago rest and neck braces were provided to clients but now we know that early movement is the best to increase healing and reduce pain levels. A physio can create the window of opportunity for early movement!

If clients avoid movement it is believed that the nerve pathways that get affected by these movements become hypersensitive to movement and increase the likelihood for a pain response to movement. Avoidance of movement can also cause increased muscle tone (increased pressure on neck structures) resulting in a cyclical reinforcement of pain.

Your therapist will work on relaxing the soft-tissue around the neck to offload some of the pain producing structures and provide you with various movements that will help to increase neck control, reduce pain and improve movement. Depending on where the restrictions are found the movements and treatments will vary from person to person.  Treatment can include dry needling, thoracic or cervical manipulations, soft tissue techniques (massge, instrumented assisted massage) and joint mobilizations.

It is normal to be stiff and sore after an accident but with regular and diligent practice the symptoms will resolve. If you are in need of a physio in Vancouver I can be found at Physio Room on Main Street.

Yours in health

Dave Carter


1. Cervical Radiculopathy

2. Whiplash prevention