Long-term Effects of Whiplash After a Car Accident

Whiplash is a common injury that affects most accident victims. The condition involves a series of neck injuries resulting from sudden back-and-forth neck movement. The sudden distortion occurs when the body is pushed forward while the head remains momentarily in place. The quick, jerky movement causes whiplash injuries. The injury can be mild or severe, depending on the situation. 


Causes of Whiplash 


Whiplash often occurs after rear-end collisions but can also happen after other types of accidents. Falls, contact sports, and physical abuse or trauma can cause injuries. Victims often do not realize they have been injured immediately after the incident.


The symptoms can appear hours or even days after the accident. When the injury occurs, it usually affects the nerves, tendons, and soft tissue in the neck and spine. It can result in long-term damage and the need for continued treatment. 


Symptoms of Whiplash 


Symptoms of whiplash are not always immediately apparent. Sometimes, short-term symptoms occur within minutes or hours. Long-term symptoms may appear weeks or even months after the accident or incident. The short-term symptoms include:


  • Upper or lower back pain

  • Migraines or severe headaches

  • Neck and shoulder pain

  • Difficulty moving the neck

  • A sensation of pins and needles around the neck

  • Reduced range of neck motion 

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)


Long-term Effects of Whiplash 


People who suffer severe whiplash often experience long-term effects such as pain. Getting immediate medical care after an accident can help prevent long-term or chronic whiplash. Long-term effects of the injury include chronic neck, shoulder, or back pain, chronic headaches, and frequent bouts of dizziness.


Other effects are difficulty sleeping, jaw pain, weakness or numbness in the limbs, and frequent tinnitus. Some people experience trouble concentrating, memory problems, and personality changes. 


Risk of Whiplash Long-term Effects


While not everyone experiences the long-term effects of whiplash, some factors increase the risk. The likelihood of suffering chronic whiplash occurs because of the following:


  • You failed to receive medical attention immediately after the accident

  • You were involved in a serious car crash

  • You had an existing back or neck condition

  • The injury resulted in spinal cord damage or cervical spine injury 

  • The injury caused damage to the neck ligaments, joints, or discs

  • You were injured again during the recovery period


Chiropractic Care for Whiplash 


It is crucial to get treatment immediately after a car accident, whether you experience pain or visible injuries or not. Prompt treatment can reduce the risk of suffering the long-term effects of whiplash. A chiropractor can evaluate your condition to determine the extent of the injury before coming up with a treatment plan.


Integrated therapies help relieve neck and shoulder symptoms. Treatment options include chiropractic adjustments, rehabilitation exercises, massage therapy, and more. The location and degree of pain will determine the best treatment.


Untreated whiplash can increase the risk of suffering chronic pain. The pain and soreness can persist long after the accident. Most people experience an improvement in their condition after several weeks or months of treatment. 


For more about the effects of whiplash after a car accident, visit Nova Chiropractic at our Charlotte, North Carolina offices. Call (704) 208-4477 or (704) 817-8185 to schedule an appointment today.

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