Delayed Whiplash Symptoms

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries that befalls motorists involved in car accidents. A type of soft-tissue injury, whiplash can be serious and lead to intense pain and loss in quality of life. Often, motorists and passengers feel fine immediately following an accident and reject medical care. In the days and weeks that follow, however, they may notice symptoms of delayed whiplash. Knowing the symptoms of the condition can help those involved in car accidents better monitor their health and seek medical attention when necessary.

What Is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a common, painful medical condition that most people associate with car accidents but can occur through any violent back and forth motion involving the neck. The sudden application of force stretches and eventually tears the muscles or tendons of the neck, a condition also called neck strain.

The pain of whiplash can be difficult to ignore, though the symptoms may not present themselves for hours or even days after an accident. The adrenaline rush that takes place immediately following an accident may obscure some of the pain. However, in the time that follows, a person afflicted with whiplash may notice several symptoms.

  • The decreased or difficult-to-achieve range of motion of the neck area
  • Pain with movement, such as looking to the right or left while moving the head
  • Pain when asked to look over one shoulder or the other
  • The feeling of knots in the muscles of the neck
  • Tenderness of the affected area
  • Headaches that form at the base of the skull that may radiate to other areas of the head

Never Ignore Signs of Whiplash

Whiplash is a serious, painful medical condition that requires immediate medical attention and timely intervention.

  • As soon as you notice pain, seek medical attention. It is important to get medical care immediately following a car accident or as soon as possible afterward, even if you feel well. The adrenaline of an accident may be delaying any symptoms.
  • The force that causes whiplash can also cause serious medical conditions such as a concussion. These require immediate diagnosis and treatment to avoid further head injury.
  • Untreated whiplash can lead to other negative side effects, such as further damage to the neck and chronic pain.

To diagnose whiplash and any other accompanying medical conditions, a doctor will order imaging and perform a clinical exam. The results of these tests will guide the treatment plan. Thankfully, the best treatment for whiplash is rest and relaxation. By overdoing it, people with whiplash could put themselves at risk for further injury. It is important to follow all of a provider’s orders and rest the neck muscles as much as possible so they can heal. Your provider may give instructions for symptomatic relief, such as the use of over-the-counter pain medicines.

No matter what injury you sustain in a car accident or when the symptoms occur, it is essential to tell your healthcare provider that you were involved in a crash. Doing so creates an official record of your injury that may be important for insurance purposes. In the case of delayed whiplash, it is common for insurers to try to shift the blame and insist your neck injury arose from some other cause. If a medical record corroborates your reports of injury, it is harder for an insurance company to claim the injury is related to something else.

Delayed whiplash is a common result of many different types of car accidents. Prompt treatment is necessary to protect your health and ward off any other possible complications that may arise. Never ignore the symptoms of whiplash; seek prompt medical attention if you note any neck pain following a car crash.