Were you in an accident that left you with symptoms of whiplash?
Has the accompanying headache, neck pain, and shoulder pain and stiffness continued to linger long after the initial bout?
If so, you could be experiencing chronic whiplash symptoms.
While many cases of whiplash dissipate within several weeks of the accident through rest and gentle rehab, some people continue to experience these uncomfortable symptoms in a more chronic fashion. While each case of whiplash can differ drastically from person to person, when left unmanaged, any of these symptoms can wreak havoc on normal, daily life. If you find yourself still suffering from whiplash symptoms three months after your initial trauma, you may be suffering from chronic whiplash and it’s time to seek help.
When Do Whiplash Symptoms Become Chronic?
With persistent whiplash symptoms, it’s important to get your timelines straight, which admittedly, can be a bit tricky. This is partially because not all whiplash symptoms appear immediately following the triggering trauma.
Symptoms of chronic whiplash include:
- Ongoing neck pain and stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in your neck
- Headaches stemming from the base of your skull
- Pain in your shoulders, arms or upper back
If you were involved in an accident that jarred your neck significantly, be on the alert for related symptoms that may develop over the weeks following your trauma. This is when your symptomatic timeline begins.
Though most whiplash cases resolve within several weeks, if you find yourself dealing with symptoms that just won’t go away 3-4 months after your accident, it’s time to seek further medical assistance. Whiplash symptoms at this point could be considered a chronic condition, and it’s important to work with the right medical professionals to make sure you have the best understanding of your case moving forward.
Finding Treatment For Chronic Whiplash Symptoms
Some people report experiencing headaches and chronic pain for years following their whiplash incident. Obviously, that’s not what you want and is no way to live! In some of these cases, it’s possible that more structural damage to your spine and neck may have been done during the accident than you originally realized, especially if you’ve already tried basic rehabilitation with not much relief. At this stage, seeking medical help is essential to resolving your symptoms and supporting your healing.
A natural next step may be for your doctor to order some imaging, like an X-ray or MRI, to get a better picture of what is really going on in your body. These images should help identify potentially larger issues that may not have been addressed initially. An X-ray can help to identify a potential fracture or dislocation that may have occurred during the force of the initial accident. Alternatively, an MRI not only shows potential damage to the bone but also illuminates any soft tissue injuries, in particular surrounding the spinal cord, discs, or ligaments.
Should your imaging reveal any of these structural issues, be sure to work with a doctor to talk about your options for treatment, the rehabilitation process, and the expected timelines. Additionally, if you have experienced whiplash previously, have existing back or neck pain, or are older in age, you may be more susceptible to chronic symptoms. It’s important to monitor your progress and relay any pertinent information to your provider in order to receive the best recommendations for treatment.
Managing Chronic Pain Day-To-Day
Another natural byproduct of chronic whiplash symptoms, or any chronic pain, is managing the emotional impact that ongoing injuries can have on our mental health. The toll of living with constant pain can feel like an endless road and make everyday life feel more burdensome. Depending on the severity of the initial accident, some people also report suffering from post-traumatic stress.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress while trying to work through your whiplash symptoms, it is always best to seek help, both personally and professionally. Lean into your community, but also know that this may be a great time to work with a therapist who can act as a guide to help you better navigate and cope with this challenging time.
How Can Chiropractic Help With Chronic Whiplash?
Many people who suffer from chronic whiplash symptoms have benefited from incorporating consistent chiropractic care into their rehabilitation routine. Chiropractic care most often involves treating the muscles, joints, and nerves in and around your neck using chiropractic adjustments. These gentle adjustments of the spine, neck, and extremities can help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and heal.
Additional treatment options may include stretching techniques on your sore muscles and joints to alleviate pain naturally. Your practitioner may also prescribe gentle stretching exercises to do at home, to continue your therapy in between office visits and recover faster.
f you’re suffering from chronic whiplash symptoms, consistent chiropractic care could help provide real relief and a better overall healing timeline. Don’t accept ongoing whiplash symptoms as a way of life.