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Delayed Whiplash Symptoms: When NOT to Ignore Pain

Whiplash is a sudden movement where the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, much like the motion of a whip. It often occurs during motor vehicle accidents or other high-impact events like bungee jumping, contact sports (football, hockey), or falls.

Typically, acute pain begins within a few hours, days, or weeks after injury. However, pain can persist months after the injury and become chronic — this is known as delayed or late whiplash.

Recognizing Your Symptoms

When your initial injury occurs, there are physical changes to the cervical spine and cervicocranial junction (where the base of the skull meets the neck). If those changes are not corrected through proper pain management treatment, the discomfort will persist and can worsen over time.

Reported symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the upper or lower back, neck, or shoulders
  • Burning sensation or numbness/weakness in the arms or legs
  • Severe headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Constant weariness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Memory loss/difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • Irritability

Those exhibiting the symptoms listed above months after their injury are likely experiencing delayed whiplash and should seek medical attention with our affiliated pain specialists as soon as possible.

Treatment of Delayed Whiplash

Symptoms of delayed whiplash are unlikely to go away on their own. Therefore, a comprehensive examination and diagnosis are crucial in order to begin treatment and find pain relief. Initial treatments could involve rest, braces, over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication, or physical therapy.

If your neck pain does not improve with the initial treatments, a pain specialist can offer you more advanced treatments such as:

  • Trigger Point Injections. Numbing medication is injected into the painful muscles to relieve pain and allow you to start physical therapy.
  • Cervical Epidural. This injection places a steroid (reduces inflammation) and numbing medication around a painful spinal disc.
  • Selective Nerve Root Block. This injection places the numbing medication in your neck area to help pinpoint an irritated and painful nerve. It helps determine further treatments and also relieves pain.
  • Joint Injections. Whiplash forces injure the small facet joints in your neck. By injecting numbing medication and a steroid into these joints, your pain specialist can reduce the swelling and pain.
  • Occipital Nerve Block. This treatment helps reduce cervicogenic headaches and nerve pain in the back of the head and upper neck.

Seek Care with NSPC

You should never ignore pain after experiencing whiplash. Speak to our network of pain specialists by calling today to schedule an appointment and begin your treatment journey.

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