Injury type: Acute

Category: Medical Options

Rating: Not effective

What is it?

Whiplash and the ensuing shock and subsequent symptoms means that some people may need time off from work to recover. Time off from work is usually prescribed by a medical doctor upon consultation with the person suffering from whiplash.

How does it work?

It is thought that time off from work, especially in the early stages of whiplash, provides a person with whiplash the time and space required to recover from the accident without any additional pressures or stresses from work and/or other professional duties.

Is it effective?

It is widely acknowledged that staying active and maintaining an active lifestyle, within pain limits, is important following whiplash. A rapid review1 synthesising evidence from highest level primary studies, systematic reviews, and well-conducted clinical practice guidelines supported the importance of education and reassurance on staying active and returning to normal activities as soon as possible in the initial management of whiplash. This review also suggested that extensive time off work, especially longer than 4 to 5 days, should be avoided.

Are there any disadvantages?

It is thought that having time off work may place the focus on the accident and injuries, rather than on recovery and healing, thus delaying recovery.

Where do you get it?

Time off from work can only be prescribed by a registered health professional, usually a medical doctor.


Based on available evidence, time off work is not recommended as a treatment for whiplash injuries, especially in the long term. On the contrary, there is strong evidence supporting return to work as soon as possible following whiplash. The decision of having time off from work should be made by the health professional (a doctor) in consultation with the person with whiplash.