If you’ve had car accident injuries and are feeling a little sore and have a few headaches, you might be tempted to wait and see if it all just goes away. However, headaches and stiff neck muscles are actually signs of whiplash and, when left untreated, can really impact your health in a negative way. A car accident doctor can diagnose whiplash and get you started on a treatment plan that will help relieve your symptoms and also address the injured areas so you can experience full healing and recovery.
Here are four negative effects of not getting treatment for whiplash:
You might think of a headache as something that happens once in a while and then goes away on its own. When headaches are a sign of something more, like untreated whiplash, they can actually be signaling that something is not quite right inside your body. In a car, your upper body from the chest down is securely restrained by the seat belt and further supported if the airbag deploys. But the force of the accident can cause your head to snap forward and then backward, straining your neck muscles and even jostling your brain and spine inside your body.
Common injuries from car accidents like whiplash can lead to more than just a headache every now and then when left untreated, can actually develop chronic headaches. When your neck muscles are tight and sore after the accident it can cause headaches. When these muscles aren’t taken care of properly it can lead to flare-ups of more pain and headaches. Injuries to your nerves can also cause headaches. A car accident doctor will be able to identify the source of your headaches and provide the appropriate head injury treatment.
If you’ve ever tried to stand on a boat in the middle of rough waters then you probably have an idea of what it’s like to experience vertigo. Vertigo is an extreme dizzy sensation where the room feels like it is spinning and you feel unsteady on your feet. You may also experience headaches along with these dizzying, disorienting symptoms. A car accident doctor may refer to this occurring after a car accident as post-traumatic vertigo because it occurs after some type of trauma to the neck and spine.
When the alignment of your spine in your neck and back is disrupted from the unexpected force of a car accident injury, it can lead to dizziness and whiplash. It is often further exacerbated by turning your head side to side, which can increase the feeling like you are losing your balance. When the vertebrae in your neck are unstable from the accident and whiplash injury, it can affect blood flow, pinch a nerve, or disrupt communication from your brain to the rest of your body.
3. Loss of Range of Motion
The unexpected force of the accident can cause the muscles in your neck to strain out of their normal range of motion as your head is jostled. This type of muscle strain can even lead to tears in the muscles that support your neck. When these muscles are damaged in the accident, they need time to heal and strengthen in order to do their job of supporting your neck effectively. It is very common to experience stiff muscles with whiplash, and when neck muscles become stiff it can be extremely painful to turn your neck from side to side. People generally have a wide range of motion in the neck and it isn’t until you lose that range of motion that you realize how important it is to your daily life.
If you don’t see a car accident doctor after the accident, you run the risk of not regaining full range of motion in your neck. While the neck muscles may start to heal on their own, they may do so in a way that does not best support your neck and can cause pain and discomfort in the future. Recovering from whiplash includes addressing how it has affected the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and spine in order to fully heal.
4. Degenerative Disc Disease
Perhaps one of the more serious negative effects of untreated whiplash is degenerative disc disease. When whiplash occurs, it can also lead to complications like a herniated disc, more commonly known as a slipped disc. A disc that separates the vertebrae in your spine can become damaged or forced out of its normal place with trauma to the spine. If you don’t seek treatment from a car accident doctor for whiplash then you also run the risk of also missing out on a diagnosis of a herniated disc.
The discs that separate your vertebrae are a spongy-like material that cushion and separate vertebrae, keeping them from rubbing against one another. When a disc slips out of place and is not properly addressed, it can lead to degenerative disc disease. In this case, the disc can start to deteriorate and may even eventually break down completely. When a disc is out of place or deteriorates, the vertebrae can rub together and cause serious pain and discomfort.