In a motor vehicle accident, the force of the collision can force your head to jerk back and forth, resulting in severe neck injuries, including whiplash. The rapid back-and-forth motion can damage ligaments, nerves, muscles and bones in your neck.
While minor whiplash may heal within a few weeks, some people have complications that can last for months or years.
Initial symptoms of whiplash
Many people do not experience symptoms directly following the accident. Some may experience the symptoms within a few hours, whereas others do not notice the symptoms for a few days. Most people report neck pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, headaches, numbness in the arms and dizziness.
In more severe cases, you may experience tinnitus, blurred vision, sleep disturbances and memory problems. Whiplash and other neck injuries can be severely and physically limiting. Since the symptoms do not always manifest quickly, you may want to have your neck examined regardless of the pain.
Long-term complications of whiplash
Most doctors cannot predict how whiplash will affect every patient. You have a higher chance of developing chronic issues from whiplash if you had severe pain, limited range of motion or pain in your arms after the accident. Additionally, those with existing back or neck pain or who have experienced whiplash before have a higher chance of developing chronic pain.
Long-term complications of whiplash can include severe headaches and chronic neck pain. The long-term symptoms of whiplash can make it difficult to return to work or function without pain throughout your daily life.