Whiplash Symptoms May Be Hard for Others to Understand

Last updated: 09-15-2020

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Whiplash Symptoms May Be Hard for Others to Understand

A whiplash injury occurs when the head and neck (cervical spine) unexpectedly get whipped back and forth. In today’s world, this injury most commonly happens when hit from behind by a vehicle.

See What Is Whiplash?

If your whiplash symptoms linger, it may be hard for others to relate to what you’re going through. Some questions could include:

Despite what other people might think, whiplash symptoms can indeed be mysterious and evolve over a period of weeks and months. Some symptoms may fade away as new ones develop. While most people fully recover from whiplash within 3 months, others may experience symptoms that last much longer and become chronic.

Let’s review some key facts about whiplash to help put this injury in perspective.

We’re used to most collision injuries becoming painful immediately. For example, if you fall and land hard on your hand, it starts hurting right away. However, a whiplash injury may take up to 24 hours or more before it becomes painful. It is not uncommon for someone to be rear-ended by another car and refuse medical attention at the scene, but then wake up the next day with neck pain.

Neck pain, stiffness, and other aches in surrounding areas are commonly associated with whiplash injury. However, the symptoms are not always straightforward and can include whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) that go beyond just pain. Some examples include:

See Whiplash Symptoms and Associated Disorders

Some whiplash-associated disorders may be related to a concussion that occurred during the collision, but the exact cause of these symptoms cannot always be accurately diagnosed.

Whiplash-associated disorders may go away quickly or last for months or longer. If left untreated, whiplash symptoms can increase fatigue, stress levels, and feelings of social isolation.

While there is a correlation between the collision’s force and severity of whiplash symptoms, sometimes the results can be surprising. A couple examples include:

If you or a loved one suspect a whiplash injury has occurred, it’s important to consult with a doctor. Seeking treatment for whiplash sooner rather than later tends to result in better recovery outcomes.

Chronic Neck Pain: What Condition Is Causing My Neck Pain?


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