What Are Potential Long-Term Effects of Untreated Whiplash Injuries?

After an accident, whether it’s a fall, sports injury, or car crash, people often say “oh, it was just minor whiplash.” While whiplash is often treatable, it can be more serious than you initially presume. One of the most important steps you can take after an accident, even if you feel no pain, is seeking medical care. This is because untreated whiplash injuries can lead to bigger, long-term health issues.

Whiplash injuries affect nearly 3 million people every year. Sure, a percentage of those people may be able to treat their whiplash with at-home remedies and get back to their normal lives. Those people are extremely lucky, though—the same can’t be said for the majority of accident victims that suffer whiplash.

Whiplash: Definition and Symptoms

Whiplash is a neck injury that damages soft tissue after a sudden and forceful impact that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. A quick jolt can overstretch and tear the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or tissues in the neck. People may feel pain in their neck or shoulders right away. However, this is typically not the case for most accident victims because during an accident, adrenaline kicks in, pouring cortisol into the bloodstream and blocking pain signals from entering the brain. Consequently, people may not feel pain for days or even weeks.

Once pain does develop, the symptoms may not look the same in everyone. Generally, symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck tension and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Soreness in the upper body
  • Loss of normal range of motion
  • Trouble focusing

If you seek medical care from a doctor, they’ll likely prescribe you muscle relaxants and recommend applying hot and cold packs, taking over-the-counter medicines, and resting. When treated promptly, symptoms of whiplash may clear up within a week or two. Failure to treat whiplash can turn a mild case into a serious one.

Ignoring the Signs of Whiplash Can Lead to Bigger Health Issues

It’s tempting to ignore or refuse to seek care when you feel no pain at all. The price you pay for leaving whiplash untreated, both financially and health-wise, outweighs the monetary price of treating it when your symptoms first appear. Here are some bigger health issues you risk developing if you ignore the signs of whiplash.

Chronic Pain

Inevitably, when pain is not treated, it’s going to last longer. For some, it may get worse. That’s why untreated whiplash can lead to chronic pain. Connective tissues in the neck are delicate, so when they’re torn, they need proper time and treatment to heal. Continuing to perform daily activities puts pressure on these already damaged tissues which can intensify the pain for longer periods of time.

Many people report experiencing severe headaches that radiate pain in the back of the head. Chronic daily headaches can make performing activities feel impossible. From nausea and exhaustion to weakness and confusion, chronic headaches can result in debilitating neurological issues that can affect your life for years to come.

Mobility Difficulties

Excessive inflammation and swelling will produce tenderness and stiffness in the neck. When moving your neck, you may encounter serious mobility difficulties like a reduced range of motion and weakness in the neck. Mobility problems can lead to permanent disabilities, affecting your ability to do even the simplest tasks such as walking, eating, and sleeping.

Vertigo/ Spine Misalignment

Vertigo is a condition that causes people to feel like they’re moving or spinning when they’re not. Vertigo is often referred to as dizzy spells and may be accompanied by nausea, loss of balance, lightheadedness, and confusion.

Vertigo and other spinal disorders may be triggered when the spine misaligns. A forceful blow to the head can make the vertebrae in your spine move out of place. Losing the optimal alignment of the spine may cause you to lose functional strength, and your spine may become more vulnerable to a disc tear.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Cervical discs in the neck prevent bones from grinding together. These spinal discs act as shock absorbers and are made of a strong, cartilage-like exterior with a softer, gel-like interior. Untreated whiplash can cause these spinal discs to absorb water and become stiffer, thinner, and more brittle—this is called degenerative disc disease. Damages to the discs can make moving difficult and put additional pressure on nerves, which can result in serious chronic pain in the back, neck, legs, and arms.

Treat Whiplash With Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery in FL

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to recognize and treat whiplash immediately. If you’re experiencing symptoms of whiplash, reach out to the NJ Spine and Orthopedics medical team in Florida: Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery. Our experienced spine and orthopedic doctors will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your pain to propose a personalized treatment recovery plan for you. Remember, when it comes to your health, you can’t take chances.

At Orthopedic and Laser Spine Surgery, our mission is to relieve your pain so you can concentrate on what matters most and perform your everyday activities without the inconvenience of pain. No matter the state of your condition, the key is to tackle it with a trusted and renowned medical group on your side. For specific information about your condition, call (855) 853-6542 or complete our contact form today.