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Dublin: 6°C Monday 8 March 2021

Physiotherapy sessions might not treat whiplash any better than exercise at home

New research found little difference in the patients recovery depending on these two treatments.

Image: whiplash via Shutterstock

A NEW STUDY into treating whiplash has found that intense physiotherapy sessions might not be any more effective than self-directed exercise.

The research, conducted by researches in Australia, found that physiotherapy was often the recommended intervention.

However, in a study of 172 people, there were no “clinically meaningful differences” between half the group who received twenty hour-long individually tailored physiotherapy and the other half who took part in a self-exercise routine.

This involved a single consultation with a physiotherapist, who assigned a set of exercises and pain-relief advice to the patients.

Follow-up phone consultations were available, the research published today in The Lancet detailed.

Study author Dr Zoe Michaleff from the University of Sydney, said that “the need to identify effective and affordable strategies to prevent and treat musculoskeletal disorders should be an important health priority”.

The need for an extended course of treatment for whiplash-associated disorders is being challenged, and our study provides further evidence that prolonged expensive clinical interventions for chronic whiplash injury are no more effective than briefer treatment programs that teach the patient how to self-manage their pain.

However, Jo Nijs and Kelly Ickmans, of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, in Brussels, Belgium warned that further research is needed into exercise therapy:

“These findings should not be interpreted as encouragement to abandon exercise therapy in these patients”, they said, “the question is how and when to exercise people with chronic whiplash-associated disorders.”

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About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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