Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents, sports injuries, and other physical trauma. It refers to the sudden snapping of the head backward and then forwards again. Whiplash can cause damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and vertebrae in the neck. Whiplash injuries are often left untreated because people do not realize they have been injured. The adrenaline and emotions arising from the incident tend to mask the pain. Unfortunately, leaving a whiplash injury untreated can lead to long-term effects.
It is essential to seek medical attention even if you do not feel pain and guidance from a skilled personal injury attorney. The pain from a whiplash injury may not present itself until days or weeks after the accident. A doctor can perform a thorough examination and order diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, to establish the extent of the injury. While some whiplash effects are minor and often resolve on their own, others persist for a long time. In fact, a study of 141 found that 11% of participants hadn’t resumed their work or activity level after a year because of whiplash injury symptoms like pain and stiffness.
Long-Term Effects of Untreated Whiplash Injuries
Chronic Neck Pain and Soreness
One of the most common long-term effects of whiplash is chronic neck pain and soreness. The neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be stretched or torn in a whiplash injury. If left untreated, the neck muscles can develop knots called trigger points. These knots can cause pain in the neck and shoulders that can radiate down into the arms. Chronic neck pain and soreness can make it difficult to perform everyday activities or exercise. It can also cause insomnia and fatigue.
Chronic headaches are another common long-term effect of whiplash. The pain from a headache caused by whiplash can vary from a dull ache to throbbing pain. The headaches may be constant or may come and go. They can worsen when you move your head, cough, or sneeze. Chronic headaches can be debilitating and make it difficult to concentrate or perform everyday activities.
Dizziness and Vertigo
Untreated whiplash can damage the nerves in the neck that send signals to the brain about balance. This can cause dizziness and vertigo. Dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness or being off balance. Vertigo is a more severe form of dizziness that can cause the room or the world to feel like they’re spinning. Both dizziness and vertigo can make it difficult to perform everyday activities or exercise.
Stiffness and Long-term Mobility Issues
The neck muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be damaged in a whiplash injury. This damage can lead to stiffness and long-term mobility issues. The range of motion in your neck may be limited. You may also have difficulty turning your head from side to side. These mobility issues can make driving, working, or participating in activities difficult.
The vertebrae in the neck can be dislocated or misaligned in a whiplash injury. This can lead to long-term problems, such as chronic pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. It can also cause nerve damage and radiculopathy, which is a condition that causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms and hands.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Untreated whiplash can damage the discs in the neck. The discs act as cushions between the vertebrae. When they are damaged, they can no longer cushion the vertebrae properly. This can lead to degenerative disc disease, which is a condition that causes the discs to break down. Degenerative disc disease can cause chronic pain, stiffness, and mobility issues.
Loss of Cervical Curve
The cervical curve is the natural curve in the neck that allows normal function and health of the neck. A whiplash injury can cause the loss of this c-shaped curve, leading to chronic pain and stiffness. When this happens, it becomes hard to turn your head from side to side, and the neck is more susceptible to injury.
The emotional effects of a whiplash injury can be just as debilitating as the physical effects. The pain, chronic headaches, and dizziness can make it difficult to concentrate or participate in activities. The fatigue can make you irritable and short-tempered. You may also experience anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. The emotional effects of a whiplash injury can make it difficult to cope with the physical effects.
Did Someone’s Negligence Cause Your Whiplash?
If your whiplash resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness, you might bring a compensation claim. However, since long-term whiplash injuries may take time to show, insurance companies are likely to downplay the severity of your injuries. That’s why it is best to work with a seasoned Colorado personal injury attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve. With the Springs Law Group legal counsel on your side, you can focus on your recovery while they handle the legal details.