One of the most common injuries that people experience following a car accident is whiplash, with more than 3 million new whiplash cases annually. It is normal to wonder how long this problem can last. In the majority of cases, it takes days to a few weeks to recover, and most people will fully recover from whiplash within three months. However, some people have complications that can last longer, even continuing for years.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash happens if your head moves back and then forward suddenly at great force. It is most commonly linked to car accidents, specifically rear-end collisions, but it can also happen on rides at amusement parks, by playing sports, or from physical abuse.
Whiplash occurs because the ligaments and muscles in the neck get extended past their usual range of motion.
The Time Frame of Whiplash
It is important to note that not everyone who experiences whiplash will notice symptoms right away. Sometimes, it may take several days to notice anything is wrong. However, most people will start noticing symptoms within 24 hours.
From there, most people are better within a few weeks at the latest, and nearly everyone will be over the symptoms within three months, with some exceptions.
Typical Symptoms to Expect
Identifying how long whiplash lasts requires knowledge of what it feels like. The most common symptoms include blurred vision, dizziness, neck stiffness and pain, headaches (especially at the base of your skull), and constant weariness.
Although less common, you may experience chronic whiplash, which could add chronic pain in the head, shoulders, or neck in addition to ringing in your ears, issues with memory and concentrating, irritability, and difficulties in sleeping.
Potential Whiplash Complications
While most people will not have symptoms for more than three months following the onset of whiplash, there are some unlucky exceptions. Some people notice chronic headaches or pain for years. That pain is frequently unconnected to medical explanations, although it is sometimes due to damage in ligaments, disks, or neck joints.
To put the risk of complications in perspective, one study found that 7% of people with whiplash did not go back to work after.
Common Treatments for Whiplash
For most people, whiplash will get better with over-the-counter pain medicines and some rest. Your doctor may also suggest icing the area.
However, it is always smart to visit your doctor for whiplash instead of trying self-treatment. If you have a more severe case, these remedies may not be enough and would leave you with longer-lasting symptoms. Your doctor might prescribe you muscle relaxants or pain killers, with the former helping with muscle spasms.
Physical therapy and the application of heat and ice will also help with recovery. Part of the treatment is practicing good posture. Sometimes, you may also get a foam collar for neck stability following whiplash. Your doctor will suggest only using it for the first few days and not for over three hours.
You can also supplement those treatments with chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, and electronic nerve stimulation. Keep in mind, though, that while many people find acupuncture helpful, there is no scientific research confirming its relief for neck pain.
To help your whiplash heal as quickly as possible, it is important that you visit your doctor and begin treatment right away.
Whiplash Injury Physical Therapy
Call (973) 485-2332 today to schedule your appointment with an experienced whiplash physical therapist in Newark, NJ. We accept most insurance plans, including NJ PIP, for auto accident injuries. We also offer chiropractic care in our Newark location. Same-Day appointments may be available, call us today!