When Whiplash Goes Untreated

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained from a car accident. Oftentimes, whiplash is viewed as a minor injury that is associated with fender-benders. However, whiplash can be more severe and serious than most people believe.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that results from your head rapidly being forced forward and back. This forced movement may result in tears in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of your neck. These tears cause neck stiffness, soreness, neck pain, and recurring headaches. You may also feel soreness in your neck and shoulders, as well as pain in your upper back. Most whiplash injuries heal within a few weeks with a physician’s treatment plan. However if left untreated, you may develop chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications that affect your health, work, and day-to-day activities.

But I Feel Alright After the Accident

You might not feel the full extent of your injuries immediately after your accident. Adrenaline and shock can mask your pain, or delay your pain for several days following the accident. 

Long Term Effects of Untreated Whiplash

Untreated whiplash can lead to serious negative health conditions and long-term pain. Torn or overextended muscles and tendons in the neck can limit your range of motion and place pressure and stress on the neck, shoulders, head, and spine. According to a neurological study, 7.8% of study participants who had whiplash had not returned to their usual level of activity and work after one year. 

Side Effects When Whiplash is Untreated

  • Chronic Neck Pain and Soreness
  • Stiffness and Long-term Mobility Issues
  • Vertigo
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Vertebrae Misalignment
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Numbness/Tingling in Arms or Hands
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

These symptoms can turn into more serious health conditions if not properly treated in a timely manner. Untreated whiplash poses a risk for chronic pain and soreness long after the injury or car accident occurred. Over-exerting torn or strained neck muscles can cause chronic pain, soreness, and difficulty performing regular tasks or movements. 

Mobility Issues

woman with her hands on her head

Pain and stiffness from whiplash or a neck injury can cause loss of mobility that prevents you from performing work duties or common daily tasks. Inflammation and swelling in the neck, upper back, and head muscles can make it very difficult to move. It can become difficult to turn your head, crane your neck, or complete full range of motion movements.

Neck pain can progress and cause secondary conditions such as headaches, migraines, and shoulder pain that can radiate into other areas of the body. 

Chiropractors and physical therapists provide integrated therapies for shoulder and neck symptoms of whiplash from car accidents. These therapies include chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, rehabilitation exercises, and more depending on the degree and location of the pain. 


Vertigo and other imbalance sensations appear in 25-50% of whiplash cases. Those who have vertigo feel like they are falling or spinning in a still environment and also feel dizzy or faint. You may also lose your balance, fall, and/or feel sick. 

Vertebrae Misalignment

Whiplash affects the uppermost vertebrae in the neck and may cause them to move out of proper spinal alignment, limiting an individual’s range of motion and may even skew posture. C1 and C2 the top two vertebrae of the spine are most affected by whiplash. 

Degenerative Disc Disease

Untreated whiplash can have serious long term effects contributing to degenerative disc disease. This condition occurs when discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorate or break down; causing pain, weakness, and numbness in your joints. With degenerative disc disease, you may experience upper back and neck pain, difficulty with stretching or moving your back along with less flexibility in your joints. 

Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam

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