3 Signs Your Whiplash Injury Is Worse Than You Thought

Lou Pendas

Legally reviewed by Lou Pendas on December 9, 2022 Lou Pendas is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

Woman with neck injury

Whiplash is an injury to the neck area that occurs when the head is suddenly jerked backward and then forward in a whip-like motion. This injury is often seen as the result of vehicle accidents, falls, or blows to the body that cause the head to move beyond its normal range of motion or snap back and forth. This excess of motion causes sudden overstretching and tearing of various ligaments and other soft tissues in the neck and shoulder area.

Common symptoms of whiplash may include headache, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness, sleep disturbances, decreased range of motion in the neck area, memory problems, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, and depression. Some of these symptoms are primary issues directly relating to the injury itself, while others are secondary ones caused by the pain, loss of mobility, and resulting lifestyle changes.

While some people with whiplash may heal relatively quickly, for others, it can become a chronic condition, leading to long-term pain and problems in the neck and shoulder area. This is why it’s important to recognize signs that your whiplash injury is worse than you initially thought and get help as soon as you realize something is wrong.

Treatment for whiplash usually includes rest and physical therapy to help reestablish normal movement. In some cases, medications such as anti-inflammatories may be prescribed to reduce pain and swelling. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair any torn tissues or fractures caused by the trauma.

Many people downplay the severity of their whiplash, especially if it happened in a minor accident like a fender-bender or a slip on a flight of stairs. The unfortunate truth is that while our bodies are resilient, they are also fragile, and a seemingly-inconsequential issue can lead to serious, lasting problems if left untreated.

To help you identify any indication that your whiplash injury is worse than thought, here are three key warning signs:

Pain That Doesn’t Go Away

Pain is very common with whiplash, especially in the first few days, but it should subside within a week following the injury. If pain continues or increases after this initial period, there may be more damage than initially suspected, and you should get follow-up medical attention immediately.

Many whiplash cases resolve themselves on their own as long as the head and neck are held stable. This is why neck braces can be helpful in these cases. If pain persists even with a neck brace and other treatments, more serious damage may have occurred and needs to be addressed.

Headaches That Get Worse

The head, shoulders, neck, and back are all connected, and discomfort in any part of your upper body can lead to headaches. However, if you’re experiencing frequent or increasingly severe headaches, it may be a sign that the whiplash is more serious than initially thought.

Headaches can occur for various reasons and are not always related to an undiagnosed injury, so if you experience any changes in your headache patterns, talk to a doctor about it. Suppose you’re experiencing chronic headaches after a car accident, or they seem to be getting worse over time. In that case, this could indicate that your whiplash injury is becoming a bigger issue than you first thought.

A Note About Headaches

It’s very important that you consult with a doctor if you have any headache following a crash because even if you believe it to be related to your whiplash, it may be a sign of something else, like a traumatic brain injury.

Numbness or Tingling in the Extremities

When a whiplash injury occurs, it can cause nerve damage to the neck and upper back area, which can lead to numbness or a tingling sensation in your extremities, like your hands and feet. This is usually caused by pinched nerves from the injury, so if you experience these symptoms, it’s a good indication that your whiplash is more severe than originally thought.

Numbness and tingling can also be signs of other issues, so it’s important to get this symptom checked out right away. If the sensation persists or gets worse over time, there could be nerve damage, and you may need additional treatments or, in severe cases, surgery to repair the damage. Any numbness in your extremities is not normal and shouldn’t be ignored.

Remember: You Deserve Medical Attention

By understanding the warning signs of a more serious whiplash injury and taking appropriate action, you can help reduce any long-term problems and get back to your normal life as soon as possible. As always, if you are unsure if an injury is serious or if you experience any changes in your symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from an expert if needed because the earlier you can identify and treat the injury, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

No matter what type of accident caused your whiplash injury, if you’re experiencing any of the warning signs mentioned above, it’s best to contact a medical professional for advice and treatment. With proper care and attention, you can get back to living life as normal in no time.

If you have been hurt in an accident that someone else caused, it might be in your best interest to connect with a personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options. Whiplash, among the many other injuries common in personal injury cases, can have a serious, lasting impact on your quality of life, your ability to earn an income, and your overall health. An experienced accident attorney can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve to cover medical bills and other expenses associated with your injury.

1-800-Injured is a lawyer and medical referral service that connects accident victims with experienced personal injury lawyers who can help them with their car accident cases. With a network of legal and medical professionals across the country, 1-800-Injured can help get you connected to the help you need in your area. Contact 1-800-Injured today to request a free consultation with a proven injury lawyer.