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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 motor vehicle accidents when the victim's head is suddenly jolted backward and forward.

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, they can lead to long-term chronic whiplash, ongoing pain, and significant medical costs. 

In this blog, we take a look at the long-term whiplash effects on the 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 end up with long-term symptoms of whiplash. 

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

Long Term Effects of Whiplash 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, reduced range of motion, or severe headaches for several years following the accident.

Nagging pain can often be linked to damage to the ligaments, discs, and neck joints.

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 a car accident where the driver was only going 10 miles per hour at the time of the crash.

Even a minor rear-end collision can cause a severe whiplash injury. 

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

There are a wide range of long-term effects of whiplash, which 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
  • Nerve damage
  • Numbness, weakness, or sensory symptoms in the hands, arms, or legs
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory issues
  • Ongoing difficulty concentrating; permanent personality changes
  • Irritability
  • Limited range of motion in the neck or surrounding area
  • Permanent soft tissue damage
  • Persistent pain 
  • Emotional distress
  • Muscle spasms

When you seek chiropractic care right away, the doctor will be able to diagnose and treat your whiplash injury before you begin to experience any common symptoms or long-term pain. 

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

Inflammation and swelling in the neck, upper back, and head muscles may make it very difficult to move those sensitive areas, 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, 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 2005 study found that 71% of people who experience an initial case of whiplash still have at least one significant symptom seven years after the injury.

In the same study, the average amount of time that whiplash patients reported for full recovery time 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 are no immediate signs of injury. 

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.

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.

Chiropractic Neck Adjustment for 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 victims for over 40 years.

Throughout the years, they have helped a countless number of Whiplash Injury victims with their recovery. 

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!

Free Whiplash Consultation

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.