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Whiplash Symptoms and Recovery

Sustaining whiplash can have an extremely negative outcome on your standard of living. This type of neck injury is notorious for causing chronic pain and reduced mobility in the neck, head and shoulders. Knowing how to recognise the symptoms of whiplash is essential to the recovery process. Personal Injury Helpline can tell you how to spot the warning signs.

What is whiplash?

Impacting the muscles, ligaments and bones in the neck and shoulders, whiplash occurs when a person’s head is forced into an abrupt back-and-forth movement. This can damage the internal structure of the neck, resulting in pain and restricted movement. Covering a broad range of injuries, whiplash can vary in severity depending on how much force the neck has been exposed to.

No two cases of whiplash are the same – some people recover in a matter of weeks, whereas others may experience chronic pain for several years. Since all whiplash injuries are unique, recovery time and treatment methods can differ between cases.

What causes whiplash?

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of whiplash. Rear-end collisions have especially high rates of whiplash injuries, as the passengers of the vehicles involved are usually thrown backwards and then forwards. In addition to car accidents, it’s not uncommon for this type of neck injury to also occur in contact sports.

The pain associated with whiplash is triggered by the soft tissue damage that occurs when a person’s head is forced backwards and then forwards at high speed. This movement throws the neck into a hyper-flexed position, stretching the top half of the spine far beyond its usual range of movement. In extreme cases, whiplash can rupture ligaments and even break bones, prolonging the recovery process even further.

What are some whiplash symptoms?

Even though whiplash is categorised as a neck injury, symptoms can be felt throughout the entire upper body. These are some of the most immediate symptoms people with whiplash experience:

  • Neck pain
  • Inability to move the neck
  • Headache
  • Pain and stiffness throughout the shoulders
  • Jaw pain
  • Pain and tingling in the arms
  • Ringing ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Back pain.

It’s important to note that whiplash symptoms can get worse with time. If you think you may have injured your neck, always see a doctor. Ignoring your symptoms and delaying treatment can prolong the recovery process.

In severe and chronic cases of whiplash, symptoms can also be psychological. People with whiplash often find it difficult to recover their former quality of life, leading to the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Pain relief dependency.

These symptoms are no less serious than the physical side effects of whiplash, and should be treated accordingly.

How is whiplash treated?

Whiplash is usually treated through a combination of pain management and physical therapy. Surgery may be required in severe cases. After sustaining whiplash, it’s crucial to stabilise the person’s neck until their injury has been assessed by a medical professional. Once a diagnoses has been made, an appropriate treatment plan can be identified.

Although it’s important to keep the upper body as still as possible following a whiplash injury, leaving the neck immobile for too long can make the injury worse. With the approval of their doctor, people with whiplash should start doing physical therapy sooner rather than later. Moving the neck can help ease stiffness in the muscles and tendons.

How long does it take to recover from whiplash?

Whiplash recovery times can vary, but most mild cases usually heal within 6 weeks. More severe whiplash injuries can take months or even years to heal. Due to the amount of time it takes to recover from chronic whiplash, this injury can impact a person’s ability to earn income.

If you’ve sustained whiplash in an accident that you weren’t responsible for, you may be entitled to compensation. Claiming damages for a whiplash injury can provide you with a financial safety net while you recover. Contact Personal Injury Helpline to find out what your rights are today.