The Long-Term Effects of Not Treating Whiplash

The Long-Term Effects of Not Treating Whiplash

Maybe the car accident was minor or the fall wasn’t too hard so you skipped going to the doctor right away. But if you have neck pain following any type of accident that caused your head to snap forcefully forward and backward, then you might have whiplash, and need to see a neck pain specialist.

Though whiplash symptoms vary, failing to get the right diagnosis and care from the start may lead to long-term pain problems. 

At Healthcare Pain Centers LLCDr. Francisco del Valle and our team of pain experts understand your apprehension about coming in for what you may consider a minor neck injury. But whiplash can be serious and one that benefits from an evaluation, even if your accident was minor or your pain is mild. 

Here, we want to tell you about the long-term effects of not treating your whiplash.

The whiplash injury

When your head moves in a whip-like motion (unexpectedly moving forward and backward with force), it overstretches the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints that make up your cervical spine, or neck, resulting in whiplash. This injury most often occurs from a rear-end car crash, but it’s also a common sports injury.

The overstretching of the components that make up your neck may cause various levels of damage, ranging from muscle strain to a herniated disc to a fractured vertebrae. Following the injury, you may have neck pain and neck stiffness. 

The severity of your symptoms may depend on the nature of your injury. But you can’t judge the seriousness of your injury based on the accident that caused your whiplash. Even minor fender-benders can result in serious damage.

Effects of not treating whiplash

If you fail to get treatment for your whiplash, you never know the true damage of your injury. You may have a herniated disc or even a broken bone and then your minor accident turns into a chronic pain condition. 

You may also have symptoms that you would not typically associate with whiplash, such as:

Because you never got a proper diagnosis or the right care, your untreated whiplash may increase your risk of developing other chronic neck problems like degenerative disc disease (DDD), osteoarthritis (OA), or radiculopathy — a pinched nerve. 

Getting care for your whiplash

If you have neck pain following an accident or injury, you may have whiplash and should get it checked out. Sometimes after an injury, pain from whiplash may even occur hours or days later.

At our practice, we check out your neck, run X-rays or request an MRI, and determine the severity of your injury. Once we understand what’s going on, we design a plan to help you get better as quickly and safely as possible.

Treatment for whiplash usually includes heat or ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and physical therapy. 

Despite what you might see on TV, we only recommend using neck braces for whiplash for very short periods of time. Resting your neck for too long may cause the soft tissues in your neck and upper back to stiffen, prolonging your symptoms. 

In most cases, whiplash symptoms resolve within a few weeks or a few months. Let us help you get better sooner rather than later. Give us a call or request an appointment online today at one of our offices in Old Bridge, Edison, or Freehold, New Jersey. 

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