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How Long Does Whiplash Last?

Car accidents can lead to severe injuries and medical complications. One of the most common car crash injuries is known as whiplash, a tightening of the neck and shoulders following a severe accident. Whiplash symptoms can be painful, debilitating, and lengthy.

Common Causes of Whiplash

Whiplash occurs when you snap your head forward or backward quickly, leading to pain in your neck and shoulders. Most often, doctors see symptoms of whiplash in car accident victims. Whiplash can also be a result of these violent incidents:

The symptoms of whiplash are a result of damage to structures in the neck. When whiplash motion occurs, the discs, nerves, muscles, and ligaments in the neck can become injured. In addition, you can experience small tears and lacerations in the vessels in the neck after an accident. These injuries cause additional inflammation in the neck, leading to more pain and swelling.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash symptoms vary from person to person. You can develop whiplash complications immediately after a traumatic accident, or in some cases, whiplash may not develop for several days. Symptoms of whiplash may include:

Whiplash Risk Factors

Although whiplash can happen to anyone, some situations are more likely to lead to a whiplash injury than others. Car accident victims are more likely to develop whiplash if the other vehicle hit them from behind. In addition, drivers who were hit when their car was stopped have an increased risk of whiplash.

People who perform a lot of sedentary work, such as office employees, may also be at an increased risk of whiplash if they are involved in an accident. Sedentary workers often have tight muscles prior to the accident, which exacerbates whiplash injuries.

Additional risk factors include:

Whiplash Healing Time

Whiplash can take anywhere from a few days to three months to completely heal. More severe cases of whiplash may not heal after the three-month mark. If you still experience whiplash symptoms for more ha a few days it is time to speak with a doctor.

Even once the initial symptoms subside, you may still experience neck pain. Research shows that anywhere between 12% and 50% of whiplash victims still experience neck pain one year after the initial accident.

Risk factors for persistent neck pain following whiplash include:

Whiplash Treatment and Diagnosis

If you believe that you have whiplash, a doctor can perform several tests to verify that you have the condition. Sometimes, doctors can perform a CT scan, an MRI, or an X-ray to examine internal injuries and perform a diagnosis. Whiplash injuries are quite small and do not always show up on these scans. In these cases, symptoms are the primary factor for diagnosing whiplash.

To treat whiplash, your doctor may prescribe any of the following remedies:

Whiplash usually disappears with consistent and early treatment. Doctors recommend performing the following exercises at least three to four times per day.

Whiplash injuries are painful but subside quickly in most cases. If you believe you have whiplash injuries, visit a doctor as soon as possible.