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Chiropractic Care for Whiplash Injuries | Neck Pain
Dr. Ana KnollaMar 13, 2019 10:51:30 AM7 min read

What Happens if Whiplash Goes Untreated?

What happens if I don't get my Whiplash treated?

Soft tissue injuries can take quite some time to heal, and the longer treatment is put off, the longer the suffering and debilitating side effects of whiplash can occur.

There is a risk of permanent damage to your joints and muscles.

In this blog, you will learn more about untreated whiplash, the side effects, and how you can get treatment now.

Table of contents:

The Dangers of Untreated Whiplash 

If you were involved in a Car Accident, one of the most common injuries to suffer from is whiplash. A soft tissue injury such as whiplash affects the ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. 

Whiplash will often occur when the neck is suddenly thrust forward and backward. This whip-like motion causes tears in the soft tissue and muscles as well as cervical spinal misalignments. 

Whiplash injuries are often dismissed as minor or something that will fix itself. Unfortunately, this dismissal often leads many victims to develop very serious complications later down the road. 

If you are ever in a car accident, no matter how you feel afterward, you should always seek the help of a doctor or chiropractor.

Some injury symptoms lay dormant for hours or days after an accident, and your chiropractor can be sure you don't have any underlying injuries that could have long-term effects on your health.

Related post: How do I know if I have Whiplash?

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury resulting from forceful, rapid back-and-forth neck movement, imitating the cracking of a whip.

The whip-like motion is where the injury gets its name.

Whiplash occurs most-often during rear-end auto accidents, but the injury can also result from playing sports, physical abuse, or other neck or head trauma.

Common symptoms include:

  • neck stiffness
  • soreness
  • pain
  • recurring headaches

If you begin to feel soreness in your neck and shoulders, or pain in your back, it may be a sign of Whiplash.

Fortunately, most people get better within a few weeks if they follow a chiropractor-approved treatment plan.

But if whiplash is left untreated, some people have chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications that can seriously affect their health, work, and day-to-day lives.

Whiplash is a common result of auto accidents and chiropractors are trained to treat it.

In car accidents, the force of the vehicle that hit you may have also misaligned your spine causing extreme pain or soreness in your neck and back.

It may also surprise you to learn that physical injuries such as blunt trauma to the head from sports (such as football, boxing, and other physically intensive or combative sports) can cause whiplash as well.

Whiplash can even result from jerking neck movement and intensive neck strain. If your work involves awkward neck movement or abrupt head or neck alignment changes, you are more prone to getting injured from whiplash.


Can Whiplash Symptoms Get Worse Over Time?

Neck pain and stiffness from a whiplash injury is often worse the day after the injury and may continue to get worse for several days afterward if it's left untreated.

Some people with whiplash do experience things like headaches for years following their accident.

Doctors may be able to trace this pain to damaged neck joints, disks, and ligaments. But chronic pain following a whiplash injury typically has no medical explanation.

However, very few people have any long-term complications from whiplash.

Usually, recovery time is anywhere from a few days to several weeks, with most people recovering fully within three months.

Whiplash is usually short-lived and self-limiting if you receive care quickly after an accident, but in a small percentage of people, symptoms persist beyond six months when the condition becomes chronic.

Untreated Whiplash

Whiplash injuries are known for not presenting symptoms until hours or days after an accident occurs.

Because whiplash is a  soft tissue injury and not a bone fracture, it does not always show up clearly on x-rays , MRI scans, or CT scans. 

Just because the onset of symptoms is not immediate, and they are not always detectable with image testing, does not mean they should be dismissed. 

On the contrary, the effects of untreated whiplash are capable of producing very painful symptoms that make normal motion completely impossible. 

Untreated whiplash can have serious long-term effects, even contributing to Degenerative Disc Disease–a condition that occurs when discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorate or break down, leading to pain, weakness, and numbness.

Many victims of suffering from the effects of untreated whiplash will require physical therapy, foam collars, medications, trigger point injectors, and ongoing chiropractic care. 

Often times the adrenaline rush that occurs during an accident will mask pain, which means there are many victims who do not feel injured after the accident at all.

Of course, after several hours or even a few days have gone by, the victim may begin to notice signs of whiplash. 

  • Neck Pain that radiates through the back and upper shoulder area. 
  • Pain that is accompanied by swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. 
  • Headaches or pain at the base of the skull. 
  • Ringing, hissing, static or humming noises are heard in the ears. 
  • Dizziness, feeling faint, or feeling as if the world is spinning.  

Unless the accident victim is seen by a medical professional, such as a chiropractor, they are very likely to experience chronic pain and long-term effects. 

Side Effects of Whiplash

Soft tissue injuries can take quite some time to heal, and the longer treatment is put off, the long-term suffering and debilitating side effects of can occur, including: 

Stiffness and Loss of Motion: Moving the neck may become impossible without experiencing excruciating pain when a whiplash injury is left untreated. The lack of motion can result in stiffness and improper muscle healing which will limit the range of motion in the neck until it's treated properly. 

Sleeping Difficulties: Chronic neck pain can make sleeping an unbearable challenge, and will often result in even more stiffness after a restless nights sleep. 

Depression and Anxiety: Whiplash pain can keep you from going about your daily life. Many people will be in pain just trying to accomplish everyday tasks. This can lead to long-term depression and anxiety as your injury holds you back from the things you're accustomed to doing on your own. This can spiral out of control causing relationship issues both personally and professionally. 

Dizziness and Vertigo: The impingement of the neck synapses that communicate to the brain can cause severe dizzy spells that often lead to vertigo and cause the victims to fall when they normally would not, along with intense feelings of nausea. 

Tinnitus: Untreated whiplash can cause persistent buzzing and ringing in the ears known as tinnitus. This condition can cause victims to have quite a difficult time focusing and sleeping which can lead to irritability. 

Headaches and Migraines: Neck pain has a tendency to cause intense headaches and migraines. These can last for days at a time and the pain can become serious enough to affect your daily life.

Chiropractic Care for Whiplash Injuries | Neck Pain

Whiplash Treatment 

When you are involved in a Car Accident, regardless of how you feel immediately following the crash, seeking the help of an experienced Chiropractor is crucial for your recovery. 

The Chiropractors at Arrowhead Clinic have been treating Whiplash victims for over 30 years.

We specialize in car accident injury treatment, so we have the confidence that we can help with your recovery. 

After reading the dangers of an untreated whiplash injury, there is really no reason to put off treatment after an accident.

Best case scenario the doctor will not find any injuries and you'll be released with a clear conscious that you won't suffer from the long-term effects of any underlying injuries. 

You have nothing to lose by seeking the expert opinion of a chiropractor who has years of training and knows exactly how to determine if someone is suffering from a whiplash injury. 

When you come to Arrowhead Clinic you will first be given a free consultation. This is your time to speak with the doctor and let them know the details surrounding your accident.

You will then be given an in-depth physical examination to determine the extent of your injuries (if any). 

Once your examination is complete, you will be given a diagnosis with a corresponding treatment plan that will be specifically tailored to your recovery needs.

Not everyone with a whiplash injury will receive the exact same treatment. Each patient and their accident is unique, which means their treatment plan will be as well. 

If you were involved in a Car Accident, there is a good chance you are suffering from a Whiplash injury. Do not put off treatment until something bad happens.

Let our experienced Chiropractors diagnose and treat your whiplash injury before it turns into chronic pain.

Click below to schedule your Free Consultation.

Free Chiropractic Consultation | Arrowhead Clinic



Dr. Ana Knolla

I graduated from Life University in Marietta and I've been practicing for almost 20 years. I started at Arrowhead Clinics in 2001 and have continued in either a part-time or full-time status ever since. I love working with injured patients and having the gratification of seeing them get well! I'm born and raised in North Florida/South Georgia...I've traveled extensively but always enjoy coming home to the South! I have 5 dogs...from chihuahuas to pit bulls... and 4 cats... and we all live in a farmhouse out in the country.