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Untreated Whiplash

woman seated on couch holding neck in pain

Whiplash injuries are known for not presenting symptoms immediately after an accident or injury. It is not uncommon for delayed pain onset.

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 but these injuries should not be dismissed.

Untreated whiplash can have serious long-term effects on the neck. 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.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the most common symptoms of an untreated whiplash injury:

  • Headaches: Neck injuries of any kind can lead to headaches. Some people with whiplash notice low-level tension headaches but others endure much more severe variations, including migraines.

  • Ringing in the ears: Ringing, hissing, static, or humming noises are heard in the ears can cause a lack of sleep and difficulty with concentration.

  • Dizziness: Dizziness can be extremely dangerous because it often leads to falls, which just compounds the problem. In addition to dizziness, many people experience vertigo after a whiplash injury or trouble with general balance. A related symptom in this grouping is nausea, a direct result of severe dizziness and an “unbalanced” feeling.

  • Neck Pain that radiates through the back and upper shoulder area.

  • Pain that is accompanied by swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

What can happen if whiplash isn’t treated?

Some people with whiplash may experience things like headaches and reduced range of motion for years following their accident.

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

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.


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