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How Long Can Whiplash Last: Recovery Period After a Car Accident

How Long Can Whiplash Last

Call (888) 970-5065 to find an experienced auto accident doctor to help treat your whiplash injury.

If you recently had a motor vehicle accident, you could have whiplash injuries as a result. You might use Google to search for ‘car accident doctor near me.’ While search engines offer a great starting point, understanding your injuries before an appointment is essential.

So how long can whiplash last after a car accident? 

Your experience with whiplash after a car accident depends on the severity of the pain and how quickly you seek treatment. A 2018 study by Michael D. Freeman and Wendy M. Leith shows that whiplash and similar injuries often exceed one million yearly. No-fault car accident doctors in New York have ample practice in efficient, effective whiplash treatment.  

What Causes Whiplash?

According to NCS Injury Facts, rear-end collisions account for almost 40% of injuries related to car accidents. In such accidents, the rear car plows into the back of the front car. This collision causes your neck and spine to whip forward suddenly from the momentum. Your neck then pulls back suddenly. 

This quick back-and-forth motion creates a movement that resembles a whiplash in your spine and neck. However, you can also sustain whiplash from other types of car accidents. Collisions from the front and side of your vehicle can also force your neck to snap back and forth. 

Symptoms of Whiplash

Symptoms of whiplash vary from mild to discomfort to severe pain that can last for years. You may recognize some whiplash symptoms instantly. Others aren’t as common.

Stay aware of your pain levels and any of the following whiplash indicators after an accident. 

Common Symptoms

You might experience an achy, stiff neck. This hallmark symptom can feel like you slept in a strange position. It can also carry pain levels that prevent you from functioning each day.

Common whiplash symptoms include:

  • Reduced range of motion in your neck and shoulders 
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling sensations in the arms or fingers

Other Symptoms

You may experience some symptoms that you don’t recognize as whiplash. While these symptoms can indicate other related issues, they can still point to whiplash. They include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of memory
  • Negative affect or depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Tinnitus or ringing ears
  • Blurry vision

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need to seek treatment and physical therapy from a qualified professional. Even if you manage the pain, symptoms can worsen or reoccur as you age. Seeking treatment promptly helps reduce the pain, increase your range of motion, and prevent chronic whiplash.

How Does Whiplash Affect You?

Whiplash can affect your entire lifestyle. Even mild untreated whiplash can have lasting effects.

With whiplash, simple tasks like turning your head from side to side become chores. In addition, sleep loss affects your general health and energy levels. What started as mild pain can evolve into something that engulfs your entire life. 

Psychological symptoms such as depression and irritability can also surface from whiplash. These mental health issues can hurt your relationships and motivation. While over-the-counter medications may temporarily ease the physical pain, they may not address the mental health symptoms associated with whiplash.

While mild whiplash may not have serious health consequences, you should seek a doctor if the pain doesn’t dissipate quickly. You should also seek treatment if it goes away only to resurface days later. Prompt, effective treatment may significantly improve your quality of life for years to come. 

How Long Can Whiplash Last?

So, how long can whiplash last? That depends on the severity of your symptoms.

Mild cases of whiplash typically last a month or less. Meanwhile, severe whiplash cases last more than six months. Sometimes, you can continue having symptoms for years after the initial accident. 

However, treatment can usually shorten your recovery time significantly. Doctors typically recommend that you seek medical care for even mild symptoms.

The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy suggests that 50% of whiplash cases will recover fully. The other half of patients may experience significant improvement. 

How Do You Recover From Whiplash?

If you have whiplash symptoms, you can take a few steps to improve your recovery time and experience. Taking pain relief medications like ibuprofen will only mask one of the hallmark whiplash symptoms. You need diagnosis and treatment from medical professionals to improve your prognosis. 

Keep Your Neck Moving

Even though you might feel some pain, keep moving your neck. Use gentle, slow motions to improve your range of motion. While you might feel tempted to keep your neck completely still, steady movement works the affected tissues, helping with recovery.

Find a Doctor Near You

A car accident doctor in your area will ensure you have the right treatment regimen for your needs. Healthcare providers can prescribe treatments that work more effectively than what you do on your own. Since each whiplash case differs, you can enjoy a unique treatment combination that works best for you. 

Common Whiplash Treatments 

How does a doctor diagnose and treat whiplash?

Diagnosis starts with an appointment. During this appointment, you’ll describe your pain levels and symptoms to your doctor. They may also use an X-ray to look at the affected area. 

Next, your doctor may implement a combination of medications and physical therapies. The medications may resolve your pain.

Physical therapy can improve your range of motion while working out the stiffness. However, your doctor may recommend corrective surgery if you have severe whiplash. 

Find No-Fault Doctors in New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut

Find No-Fault Doctors in New York

How long can whiplash last? That depends on its severity and the treatment. Fortunately, an orthopedist can help you estimate your recovery time.

A doctor experienced with whiplash can analyze the severity of your injuries, establish an effective treatment plan, and provide an estimated recovery timeline.

Doctors in our free directory accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Call No-Fault Doctors at (888) 970-5065. Same-day appointments may be available.

Whether looking for chiropractic care or orthopedics, you can find a doctor with our extensive directory.