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How Long Does It Take to Feel the Effects of Whiplash?

Posted on November 7, 2018 by Kelly Wolford
Man experiencing whiplash after car crash.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries individuals experience in car accidents. However, many people do not understand the condition, or know when to seek medical treatment for it. How long does it take to feel the effects of whiplash?

While whiplash is sometimes a less-severe injury, it can often have very serious consequences. Because of this, it is crucial that those who have developed whiplash after an accident get treatment from a medical professional. However, this treatment is complicated by the sometimes subtle and often-delayed symptoms of whiplash.

What Causes Whiplash?

Victims of car accidents often suffer whiplash injuries, but it can just as easily occur due to physical abuse, riding amusement park rides, or playing very physical sports, for example. These are only the most common ways an individual can develop whiplash. Any activity that involves the potential for sudden force applied to the neck can cause this painful condition.

Whiplash injuries are caused by the sudden movement of the head back and forth with great force. This abrupt motion forces the neck muscles to simultaneously flex and extend. This can cause damage to the muscles, but injuries can extend beyond that. Harm may also be done to nerves, discs, and ligaments in the neck.

How Long After an Accident Does It Take to Get Whiplash Symptoms?

Whiplash symptoms may appear hours, days, or longer after an individual has walked away from an accident thinking they are fine. Unfortunately, just because you don’t feel pain in your neck immediately doesn’t mean it won’t be severe once symptoms do begin to surface. To make sure you get treatment for whiplash, you have to know how long it takes for symptoms to typically appear.

The vast majority of whiplash symptoms will appear within the first 24 hours. After that first full day, if you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms outlined below, it is probable that you won’t develop whiplash at all. However, it is important to recognize that some people don’t experience any symptoms of whiplash for the first few days after a car accident. Be sure to see a medical professional to find out definitively if you are experiencing whiplash.

Understanding Whiplash Injuries

For some people, soreness is the only symptom of a minor whiplash injury. While this is undoubtedly the most common symptom, whiplash can manifest in many other ways. Some of the most common symptoms of whiplash are:

  • Stiffness in the neck and a limited range of motion
  • Pain and stiffness in the shoulders
  • Pain and stiffness in the arms
  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms in the neck
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating and with memory
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Ringing in the ears

Not every case of whiplash will show all of these symptoms, and some symptoms are more common than others. For instance, headaches (particularly at the base of the skull) are far more likely than blurred vision or difficulty sleeping. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms after an accident, it’s best to see a doctor to find out more.

A doctor’s visit is vital for a few reasons, including:

  • Definitively determining if you have whiplash. Your doctor may be able to diagnose it with a simple physical exam, or they may order an X-Ray, CT scan, or MRI to get a better understanding for more severe cases.
  • Your doctor can prescribe treatment for your immediate whiplash symptoms. They may recommend anything from simply applying heat, ice, or both on your neck and taking over-the-counter pain medication to using ultrasound and massages on the neck muscles. In most cases, treatment will simply alleviate pain while the body heals itself. Most cases of whiplash disappear after a few days. Some cases may take a month or a little longer to fully disappear.
  • Perhaps most important reason to see a doctor about your whiplash is that a significant number of individuals experiencing whiplash will continue to suffer from the condition for months or even years after the car accident or other cause. According to the Cleveland Clinic, between 12 and 50 percent of whiplash victims still have symptoms a year after developing the condition. These more serious cases may require physical therapy and other more significant treatment options to aid in the healing process.

Whiplash and Personal Injury Lawsuits

No matter the severity of your whiplash injury, it can lead to significant medical bills, time away from work, and a great deal of pain and suffering. When the source of this pain is a car accident, an amusement park ride, or another situation in which another party could be at fault, you may be able to receive compensation for the costs associated with your injury.

Some people who suffer from whiplash mistakenly believe that their injuries are not severe enough to pursue an injury claim. If you suffered whiplash and were forced to seek costly medical treatment and miss time from work due to someone else’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to bear these consequences without taking action.

The best decision you could make after a doctor diagnoses you with whiplash is to contact an injury attorney to discuss your legal options. People are often surprised to learn that their financial future is not in jeopardy, and they could be owed significant compensation for the harm that was done to them. Don’t assume you don’t have a claim. Call an attorney to find out the truth.

Contact Us Now for Information About How We Can Help Whiplash Victims

If you or someone you know has suffered whiplash due to the negligence of another, you should contact the Albany car accident lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team, call us, chat with us live, or fill out a contact form today.