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Car accident whiplash diagram
Dr. Summer TurnerFeb 15, 2018 2:21:41 PM6 min read

The Serious Long Term Effects of Whiplash After a Car Accident 

What Are The Long-term Effects of Whiplash After a Car Accident?

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that will often occur in a Car Accident when the victim's head is suddenly jolted backward and forwards. 

Many people who are involved in an auto accident will suffer from a whiplash injury.

These injuries can range from mild to severe, however, when they are not properly diagnosed or treated, the results can be long-term with consequences such as disability and significant medical expenses. 

In this blog, we take a look at the different long-term effects that whiplash can have on your body and mind, and why it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident.

Table of contents:

How Whiplash Affects You In The Long Run  

Whiplash injuries will often have a slow onset, so many people will not even realize that they have suffered the injury until hours or even days after the accident.

Because of this, many people will not seek treatment at all, hoping the pain will be short-lived and that they will just start to feel better with time. 

This is the worst possible decision one could make. While in some rare circumstances the victim may feel better on their own, the majority will suffer from long-term complications. 

Related Post: Correcting your Cervical Lordosis can Prevent Whiplash and Neck Injuries

Long-Term Effects of Whiplash 

Whiplash injuries can last anywhere from days, weeks, months, or even years depending on the severity of the injury that was caused to the soft tissue in the neck and upper back. 

Auto Accident victims may experience chronic neck pain or headaches for several years following the accident.

Often times the nagging pain can be linked to damage in the ligaments, discs, and neck joints. 

Car accident whiplash diagram

Long-term effects of whiplash usually result from more serious car accidents. However, even when severe accidents occur, it can still take 12 hours or more for the full symptoms of whiplash to appear.

This is the number one reason why it's crucial to be seen by a medical professional immediately following the accident. 

When a whiplash victim does not receive medical treatment shortly after the injury occurs, the recovery process can take much longer. 

Whiplash injuries can occur even when in car accident cases where the driver was only going 10 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

Even a minor rear-end collision can result in a nasty case of whiplash.

This means, the vehicle may not even be damaged, but that does not mean your body is not. 

The long-term effects of whiplash can include:

  • Chronic pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders
  • Ongoing bouts of dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears that is constant or comes and goes
  • Upper or lower back pain
  • Severe, chronic headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Numbness, weakness, or sensory symptoms in the hands, arms, or legs
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory problems
  • Ongoing difficulty concentrating; permanent personality changes
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability
  • Limited range of motion in the neck or surrounding area
  • Permanent soft tissue damage

When you see a medical professional right away, the doctor will be able to diagnose and treat your whiplash injury before you begin to experience pain and lose your range of motion.

Those who fail to seek medical treatment, even when their injury is minor, will run the risk of experiencing whiplash symptoms for much longer than those who receive proper treatment. 


Can Whiplash Cause Other Problems?

Untreated whiplash poses an increased risk for chronic neck pain and soreness, long after the injury or car accident occurs. Torn or stressed neck muscles and ligaments require careful treatment and take time to repair correctly.

Over-exerting these muscles and ligaments can make matters worse, causing pain, soreness, and difficulty performing regular tasks or movements.

While most whiplash injury patients see improvement in their condition within several weeks or months of the injury, for those that do not seek treatment, chronic pain and discomfort can persist for several months and even years after sustaining the injury.

Pain and stiffness from whiplash or a neck injury may cause loss of mobility that prevents you from being able to perform your work duties or common daily tasks.

Inflammation and swelling in the neck, upper back, and head muscles, which may make it very difficult to move those sensitive areas or fully turn or crane the neck or head.

If left untreated, neck pain can progress and cause secondary conditions such as headaches, migraines, and shoulder pain that radiates into other areas of the body.

Chiropractors and physical therapists provide integrated therapies for shoulder and neck symptoms of whiplash from car accidents and other injuries, such as chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, rehabilitation exercises, and more options depending on the degree and location of the pain.


Can Whiplash Come Back Years Later?

Some cases of whiplash resolve within a few weeks or months, especially if the victim receives adequate medical treatment from a chiropractor soon after the injury.

But in other cases, the effects of a whiplash injury may go on for years, or for the rest of their lives.

Although the symptoms of whiplash might not be constant, they could flare up years later, after the accident has long been forgotten.

Victims are more likely to experience the effects of whiplash years later if they:

  • Are involved in a serious auto accident
  • Do not receive adequate medical treatment soon after the whiplash injury
  • Suffer severe injury to the ligaments, discs, or joints in the neck
  • Suffer a spinal fracture or another serious injury near the neck
  • Re-injure the neck during the initial healing process
  • Already suffer from preexisting neck conditions
  • Experience a severe inflammatory response to the whiplash

Long-term whiplash is more common than you might think. A study in 2005 study found that 71% of people who experience an initial case of whiplash still have at least one significant whiplash symptom seven years after the injury.

In the same study, the average amount of time that whiplash patients reported for full recovery from their whiplash was two years.


Why Seeing a Chiropractor is the Best Solution for Your Whiplash Injury

When you are involved in a Car Wreck, no matter how minor, you should always seek help from an experienced Personal Injury Chiropractor. 

Seeing a chiropractor after you have been injured in a car wreck is the best way to make a fast and complete recovery, even if you aren't showing symptoms. 

Chiropractors have extensive training when it comes to treating whiplash injuries.

When you come to the clinic after being involved in an accident, they will ask you about your medical history and complete a thorough exam. 

Whiplash Injury Chiropractor

Once they have diagnosed the problem, they will come up with a specialized treatment plan that will be tailored to your specific recovery. 

Do not put off seeing a chiropractor after you have suffered a whiplash injury.

Visit Arrowhead Clinic for Whiplash Treatment Today!

The faster you seek treatment for whiplash, the faster you can begin the recovery process. 

The Personal Injury Chiropractors at Arrowhead Clinic have been treating car accident injury victims for over 40 years. They have helped a countless number of Whiplash Injury victims throughout the years. 

If you were involved in an Auto Accident, even if it was just a minor rear-end collision, let our Whiplash Injury Doctors help you before you suffer the long-term effects of whiplash. 

Click the banner for a free consultation today!

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Original blog post here.


Dr. Summer Turner

Dr. Turner is Arrowhead Clinic’s Atlanta Chiropractor. She is originally from North Carolina but has traveled all over the country pursuing her career as a Chiropractor by treating people who have been injured in accidents and people who suffer from chronic pain. She has been with Arrowhead for many years, fulfilling her desire to help accident victims and patients who suffer from chronic pain conditions. Dr. Turner is well-versed in chiropractic care with an emphasis on sports-related therapies. She had the opportunity to train under the chiropractor for the Carolina Panthers to complete her Master's in Sports Rehabilitation. She studied under two more chiropractors, which allowed her to sharpen her skills and adjusting techniques. Dr. Turner is certified in several soft tissue techniques, including Active Release Technique (ART) and Fascial Distortion Model (FDM), as well as a movement diagnosis technique called Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). Dr. Turner believes that movement is life and, as such, plays a critical role in overall health. She has always been passionate about helping people improve their quality of life, be it through chiropractic care, nutritional counseling, and/or a variation of physical modalities. She has helped many individuals achieve a healthier life. A recent review left by one of Dr. Turner’s patients stated, “Great customer service from staff. Quick and effective service from the doctor.” Dr. Turner offers free, same-day consultations to anyone in pain. She is available for appointments Monday-Friday from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.