You’ve been doing well and feeling healthy, despite being in a car accident weeks or even months ago. Then, one day you wake up, and you’re suddenly feeling new symptoms with no identifiable cause. It may be time for you to visit the car accident chiropractors at ProCare after all: you could be dealing with late whiplash syndrome.
Whiplash is one of the top ten soft tissue injuries from car accidents. While most cases manifest within a week or less, there have been studies that indicate whiplash symptoms may not show up until up to six months later. Experts believe that women with pre-existing conditions that weaken the neck are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon.
Think this could be you? If so, you will probably be experiencing one of these fifteen effects of whiplash.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
In cases of whiplash, this pain is usually a dull ache in the front or back of your neck, and sometimes both. This pain will make it difficult for you to move your head. Try nodding “yes” or shaking your head “no.” The pain would make it very difficult for you to do these two actions without significant effort. You can try an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen. This will help with inflammation and soothe some of the pain.
Another common symptom of late whiplash syndrome is stiffness in the neck. You may have difficulty moving your head in any direction. This is actually a very helpful symptom for doctors to know about, as it can help them determine whether the reasons for your stiffness are whiplash or some other condition. To do so, they measure the level of stiffness in the trapezius muscle. Again, this symptom can be treated with anti-inflammatory mitigation strategies.
Severe headaches, including migraine, are known to be associated with neck pain, and it is no less true when dealing with the effects of whiplash. Practicing proper headache hygiene is the best way to manage this symptom. This includes regular exercise, regular meal patterns, hydration, and screen breaks.
One area affected by whiplash is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. If that reminds you of lockjaw or grinding your teeth, you’re on the right track. These disorders occur in the same area, which is the joint connecting your jawbone to your skull like a hinge. Inflammation in this joint can cause significant pain.
This is one of the most common symptoms experienced by those who have experienced the trauma of a car accident and in up to 50% of whiplash cases. It can range from brief episodes of feeling disoriented or longer episodes of vertigo.
Because of the way whiplash affects your neck, causing your head to move back and forth in a quick motion, there can be damage to the functioning of your ocular muscles – in other words, your eyes. Unfortunately for patients with late whiplash syndrome, this is one of the symptoms best treated immediately after the traumatic incident. With delayed treatment, recovery can take much longer.
Ringing in the Ears
This condition, known as tinnitus, can occur for a myriad of reasons. Whiplash can damage your nerves. The form of tinnitus associated with nerve damage is called pulsatile tinnitus. Patients report hearing more of a whooshing or rhythmic sound, like the sound of a heartbeat. This can happen in just one ear or both.
If you’re feeling a lot of pain or other symptoms, of course, your body may be feeling some fatigue too! Fatigue is your body’s way of telling you to rest since, after all, rest is the best medicine for any condition, and especially for the kind of repair your body automatically does as a result of whiplash. Of course, you still have a life to live, so fatigue can be a frustrating symptom to deal with. Drinking lots of water and going to bed earlier are just two ways that can help you manage this symptom, even if you can’t treat it.
Decreased Range of Motion
Your range of motion is your ability to move parts of your body in certain directions or to certain lengths. With late whiplash syndrome, you may notice that you aren’t able to tilt your head as far or move it in circles quite as easily, even if you aren’t feeling pain or stiffness.
Arm and Leg Weakness
The nerves controlling your arms and neck are in your spine, which of course, stretches out from your neck. In the case of whiplash, damage to the spine can cause your nerves to act in unexpected ways. If you notice that your arms and legs are experiencing more pronounced levels of weakness, it could be a sign that there has been nerve damage somewhere along your spinal cord.
You’ve got ringing in your ears, and your neck hurts. Now try getting a good night’s sleep. It can feel almost impossible! The effects of whiplash can cause insomnia and other sleep disturbances, which unfortunately exacerbate many of your other symptoms.
It’s hard to focus on the world around you when you feel like your body is experiencing all kinds of pain and other new sensations. You may notice that your ability to focus on tasks and even conversations is significantly more limited than it was before your car accident.
The combination of pain, fatigue, and lack of focus, make it difficult to remember even small things. You may find yourself missing important dates or losing everyday items.
Like difficulty focusing and memory issues, irritability is yet another effect of whiplash that can feel frustrating for not just you but those around you. The exhaustion of trying to sleep with pain, the feeling that you are forgetting every small thing, the tinnitus, dizziness, and other symptoms – it may make you feel angry or irritable. Be ready to ask your loved ones to have patience with you as you learn how to treat your condition.
It can take a long time to feel like yourself again after late whiplash syndrome. It is a form of chronic pain that can take over many aspects of your life. The association between chronic pain and depression is an oft-studied area of medicine, and more and more professionals recognize that sufferers of chronic pain are significantly more likely to experience depression than healthy peers.
If any of these symptoms sound like what you are experiencing, contact a medical professional along with a car accident injury doctor to begin discussing a treatment plan.