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Can Whiplash Cause These Side Effects, Even Years Later?

Last Updated: August 25th, 2020 at 12:31 pm
Read Time: 4 Minutes

One in 100 people around the world suffers from ongoing chronic neck pain due to an automobile-induced whiplash injury. Moreover, in the longest-running study ever done on whiplash patients, more than 50 percent of victims observed still dealt with chronic pain almost 20 years after their accident.

When left untreated, whiplash will lead to chronic discomfort. This pain is often severe enough to need diagnostic testing, medications, and doctor visits on an ongoing basis, even nearly eight years after the accident occurs. Is your whiplash injury still causing you pain after all these years?

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a type of soft-tissue injury that affects the ligaments, tendons, and surrounding tissues of the cervical spine. Whiplash is commonly referred to as a neck strain or neck sprain. This injury is caused when the head suddenly moves backward then forward in a rapid, whip-like motion.

Approximately two-thirds or people involved in motor vehicle crashes develop whiplash symptoms, with rear-end collisions being the most common cause of whiplash. However, being hit from the side, contact sports injuries, and abuse are also common causes of whiplash. Likewise, falling from a height, such as from a horse or bicycle, can lead to whiplash.

Whiplash Symptoms to Watch

Each year, 3 million new whiplash cases occur, with more than 50 percent of cases incurring a degree of chronic pain. In 75 percent of patients, side effects of whiplash can last 6 months or longer. However, those who sustain whiplash injuries may not notice symptoms immediately after an accident. Side effects like pain, stiffness, and mobility issues can take days to appear.

Some of the primary symptoms experienced shortly after sustaining a whiplash injury include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Limited neck mobility
  • Inability to move the neck without pain
  • Pain in the shoulders, upper back, and arms

As whiplash symptoms can be delayed, it is critical to receive medical attention immediately after the accident. A qualified physician may be able to diagnose the injury by a physical examination and imaging tests, such as x-rays.

Chronic Pain and Lingering Side Effects of Whiplash

When the symptoms of whiplash aren't addressed, they can often snowball into larger issues that impact everyday life. Those suffering from pre-existing health conditions such as arthritis are likely to experience greater severity of injury and greater pain. Overall, more than 60 percent of people who have whiplash injuries will require long-term medical follow-up.

Depending on the severity of the injury, whiplash symptoms can last anywhere from days, weeks, months, or years. Damage to the ligaments, discs, and neck joints can cause radiating pain to other parts of the body, while the nerve roots that are stretched during the accident can become inflamed and increase pain signals throughout the body.

Even years after an accident, certain expected side effects can arise:

  • Stiffness in the shoulders and arms
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Limited mobility in the upper back and chest
  • Severe headaches, especially at the base of the skull

However, lesser-known and unexpected side effects can result from whiplash trauma:

  • Vertigo
  • Nausea
  • Tinnitus
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Insomnia, and other issues while sleeping

If you've been suffering from ringing in the ears, have issues chewing caused by jaw aches, or other seemingly unrelated side effects, you might be surprised to learn that all of the above can be linked back to whiplash trauma. Even personality or psychological changes, such as increased feelings of anxiety or depression, can be caused by the damage incurred during a whiplash accident.

Treatment for Pain from Whiplash

When pain appears, it can be difficult to understand its source on its own. What might seem like simple trouble sleeping or neck stiffness can be remnants of an injury that was left untreated for far too long. The fact is, the damage incurred by the neck during a whiplash injury has shown to have a lasting impact on the body, even 20 years down the line.

Stop letting pain dictate life, and begin living pain-free. With 11 offices throughout the South Florida area, ChiroCare of Florida is here to help identify the source of your pain and work to efficiently heal it. Using physical examinations and medical imaging, our dedicated physicians can locate where the pain is stemming from and begin administering all-natural, soothing therapies to treat irritated nerves, damaged tissue, and affected discs.

If pain symptoms have been impacting your life - even years after an injury - visit a ChiroCare of Florida office near you today. Contact us to learn more about how our physicians treat whiplash injuries.

About the Author:
Dr. Les Pachter
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Les Pachter moved to South Florida with his family at an early age. After attending the University of South Florida, he went on to receive his Doctor of Chiropractic from Life Chiropractic College, and has now been in practice for 28 years. Dr. Pachter is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP), and is a current member of the Business Network International.
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