5 Subtle Whiplash Symptoms to Watch Out For

Beautiful young woman rubbing her neck, feeling sore after long drive. Female driver having terrible neck pain after whiplash injury in car crash. Healthcare, safety, pain concept

Were you recently in a car accident? You might not recognize the pain you’re in until days afterward. In fact, about 20 to 50 million people are disabled or injured after crashes each year.

It’s possible you sustained a whiplash injury, which can cause debilitating, long-lasting symptoms.

What exactly is whiplash, and which whiplash symptoms should you watch out for after a crash? Keep reading to find out. In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know.

By tracking your symptoms, you can get help before your condition gets worse.

Read on to learn all about the signs of whiplash after a car accident.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury that develops after a swift, back-and-forth snap of the neck. It often occurs when a driver has their car rear-ended. However, people can develop this injury outside of car accidents as well.

When left unattended, whiplash symptoms can get worse over time. Patients could experience long-lasting issues or develop chronic neck pain. 

This condition is also referred to as:

  • A neck sprain or strain
  • Chronic whiplash syndrome
  • Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD)
  • Cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD)

Regardless of the name used, this condition can persist between weeks or months when left untreated. 

The traumatic force involved can cause inflammation, which leads to pain symptoms. Inflammation can affect the muscles, soft tissue, nerves, and tendons in the spine and neck. When inflammation is unable to heal naturally, it can cause chronic pain.

Causes of Whiplash

There are a few situations that can cause whiplash. In each of these situations, the sudden force causes the neck to snap back and forward again. 

Whiplash is often caused by sports injuries or other trauma that produces a sudden force to the neck. This rapid motion is common with contact sports and physical abuse.

For example, physical assault or abuse could involve an assaulter punching or shaking their victim. With contact sports like football, collisions are common. If you were recently in an accident that caused trauma, make sure to visit a doctor right away.

They can evaluate your symptoms and check for signs of whiplash. Receiving whiplash treatment immediately can ensure your symptoms don’t get worse.

Whiplash Symptoms

Every year, about 2 million drivers develop permanent injuries as a result of a car crash. Keeping track of your whiplash symptoms is important. By starting treatment right away, you could avoid a long-term disability.

Here are a few signs of whiplash after a car accident or trauma to watch out for.

  1. Dizziness

Some drivers feel dizzy after a car crash, which could indicate they have a concussion. In some cases, a concussion could indicate a serious problem. You might have swelling around your brain. 

Let your doctor know if you feel dizzy after the crash. The stress of the accident could cause your head to shake. This forceful movement can cause symptoms like dizziness. 

If it feels like the ground is about to fall out from under you, sit down right away. It’s also possible you’ll feel dizzy when you’re sitting down.

Some people experience lightheadedness when they transition from standing to sitting.

If your dizziness persists for hours at a time, call for help. 

  1. Tingling and Numbness

Sometimes, adrenaline can mask the full extent of your pain symptoms, especially after a traumatic experience. Though you might not realize you’re in pain, you might experience a tingling sensation instead.

After a whiplash accident, the vertebrae in your neck might slip out of place.

There are spongy discs between each vertebra. When they’re forced out of place, they could put pressure on your nerves. It’s possible a swollen tendon or muscle is adding to this pressure as well.

If you experience a pins and needles sensation, it could lead to numbness. 

Seek whiplash treatment right away if you experience tingling and numbness after an accident.

  1. Pain and Tenderness

Pain and tenderness are natural after a crash, but they could indicate a more extensive injury.

After an accident, take stock of your injuries. Where does it hurt the most? If your neck snapped forward, you might experience neck pain right away.

Neck pain develops when your muscles strain beyond their usual range of motion. You could develop limited mobility and range of motion issues as a result.

Your shoulders and back muscles might start to ache as well.

  1. Headaches

Remember, whiplash is an injury that affects the neck and head. Headaches are common as a result. 

You might not develop a headache right away. If you experience one in the days after the accident, and it persists, seek help. 

  1. Stiff Muscles

Swelling and inflammation can occur if your muscles stretch beyond their usual limits. You might feel unable to move them in ways you once could. It’s likely you’ll develop stiff muscles as a result.

Try to turn your head from one side to the next. Are your muscles stiff? Consider visiting a chiropractor or doctor for treatment. 

What To Do

First, make sure to visit a doctor if you experience any of these whiplash symptoms. They’ll complete a physical examination to determine your:

  • Reflexes
  • Range of motion
  • Degree of motion that causes pain
  • Strength
  • Sensation
  • Tenderness

Then, they’ll use imaging tests like an MRI, CT, or X-ray to assess the damage.

Your doctor might encourage different forms of treatment to restore your range of motion and limit your pain. For example, they could suggest prescription painkillers, physical therapy, or at-home care like:

  • Hot or cold therapy
  • Rest
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Exercise
  • Injections
  • Foam collars
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massages

In the meantime, consider consulting an auto accident attorney. They can help you recover your losses. The compensation you earn could help cover the cost of your medical bills and treatments. 

Take your time finding a car accident lawyer to ensure they can handle your lawsuit.

Watch Your Back: 5 Whiplash Symptoms to Watch Out For

A car accident or trauma doesn’t have to impact your long-term quality of life. Instead, keep an eye out for these whiplash symptoms. Getting treatment right away can help you avoid a lasting disability. 

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Hemant Kumar
Hemant Kumar is a project manager at Tridindia with more than nine years of commendable experience in writing about LMS, translation, and IT. His unmatched talent and passion for digital marketing gave him the opportunity to work as a multi-tasking project manager at TridIndia’s sister company, Link Building Corp. Today, he contributes to the world by imparting knowledge on SEO, link building and internet marketing etc., that helps business owners grow their online business.