We are a Galway-based chartered physiotherapy clinic that specialises in treating whiplash. Whiplash associated disorders (WAD) is the term used to described injuries sustained as a result of sudden acceleration-deceleration movements such as those associated with motor vehicle accidents. The term WAD is often used synonymously with the term whiplash, however whiplash refers to the mechanism of injury rather than the presence of symptoms such as pain, stiffness, muscle spasm and headache, in the absence of a lesion or structural pathology.

The prognosis of WAD is unknown and unpredictable. Some cases remain acute with a full recovery while some progress to chronic with long term pain and disability. Whiplash and WAD affect a variety of anatomical structures of the cervical spine depending on the force and direction of impact as well as many other factors. Early intervention is advisable and recommendations are relative rest, pain relief, basic stretching and strengthening exercises.


Causes of pain can be any of the following tissues (with the strain injury resulting in secondary oedema, haemorrhage, and inflammation):

  • Joints such as zygapophyseal joints, atlanto-axial joint (C1/C2) and atlanto-occipital joint C1/occiput
  • Intervertebral discs and cartilaginous endplates
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Bones (atlas, axis and C3-C7 vertebral bodies)
  • Nerve roots
  • Vascular system
  • Adjacent joints such as the temporomandibular joint, thoracic spine, ribs and shoulder complex
  • Peripheral vestibular system


  • Education, resumption of normal activity, and mobilization exercises are generally the treatment of choice.
  • First-line treatments include analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, ice, and heat.
  • Most treatments alone appear to have moderate effectiveness with combinations of treatments being the most effective.
  • Exercise therapy is superior to collar therapy in reducing pain intensity and disability after whiplash injuries.
  • For the management of chronic whiplash, there is strong evidence that multidisciplinary therapy is effective which consists of an exercise program. Early mobilization is most effective when more serious clinical pathologies noted on examination and imaging diagnostics have been ruled out.

You are in safe hands at West Coast Physio. We have over 15 years’ combined experience in treating conditions such as whiplash associated disorders.

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