You’ve been involved in a minor fender-bender, and everything seems fine. A day or two later, however, you begin to notice pain between your shoulders, you’re having trouble sleeping, and you feel dizzy. Believe it or not, there’s a good chance that you have whiplash.
Whiplash happens when your head is jerked forward or backward abruptly, as often happens during auto accidents, the most common scenario for whiplash to occur. You can also get whiplash, which is also sometimes called neck strain or neck sprain, in other ways, such as playing sports or during a fall.
Why whiplash hurts
When your head is jerked forward and backward, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments may be stretched beyond their range. You may even have damage to the cervical vertebrae — the vertebrae in your neck — or to the discs between those vertebrae.
Just as when you sprain your ankle, a neck sprain can be very painful and may take weeks to heal.
Common whiplash symptoms
Not everyone experiences whiplash in the same way. You may have some symptoms, but not others. Common symptoms include:
- Neck pain
- Worse pain when you move your neck
- Headaches, especially at the base of your skull
- Pain or tenderness in your shoulders, upper back, or arms
- Tingling or numbness in your arms
- Dizziness and fatigue
Less common symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Tinnitus, which is a ringing sound in your ears
- Problems sleeping
- Problems concentrating or remembering
The whiplash timeline
Unlike some other injuries, whiplash doesn’t always follow a predictable timeline. It may take a few days or weeks for you to heal, and in some rarer cases, symptoms can linger for months or even years.
It’s also not unusual for your symptoms to be delayed by 24 hours or even longer. It could be a few days following your injury before you begin to notice symptoms.
The potential reasons for the delay vary. You may not notice your symptoms immediately because an accident can cause your body to produce extra adrenaline — which acts as a pain reliever. The effects of adrenaline can last for quite some time, especially if you have to deal with things like police reports and insurance claims immediately after your accident.
The delay can also occur if your body needs a little while to assess the damage and begin the healing process. Part of healing is often inflammation, and inflammation triggers pain. If your injury isn’t inflamed, it probably doesn’t hurt yet.
Similarly, even with proper treatment, the length of time it takes to recover from whiplash varies from person to person. Your doctor at Premier Chiropractic does a thorough assessment and suggests a treatment plan designed to address your specific injury.
A personalized course of treatment is the most effective way to recover in the safest and most efficient way. If you’d like to learn more about our whiplash treatment, book an appointment online or by phone today.