Here’s a nice little infographic I created to help people better understand some of the most common signs and symptoms of a whiplash injury.

For many who are injured in a low impact car crash, these signs and symptoms don’t appear for weeks, if not months, post accident. Those involved in more violent, high velocity crashes will notice these symptoms immediately. Either way, effective treatment should be initiated as soon as possible for person’s inured in an accident.

While recovery time from these symptoms ranges from person to person, one commonality is that untreated whiplash has a lasting impact on health and function. Spinal degeneration, disc decay and arthritis are all conditions that adversely effect a spine that is injured and not treated properly. Every week I see patient’s with chronic neck pain and headaches as a result of a spine that was damaged years ago but not properly cared for after the accident. Bone spurs, bulging discs and reversed neck curves are common findings in cases of untreated whiplash.

When a football player sprains a ligament in their knee, like the ACL, they don’t just “let it heal”. They undergo exercise and rehabilitation therapy to ensure that the injury fully recovers so that they can return to competing at their full potential. Those involved in a car accident must have the same mentality. Not only does the spinal trauma need to be addressed, but so does the soft tissue injury. This requires exercise therapy and rehabilitation, along with spinal adjustments, to restore normal movement, strength and resiliency to the neck and back.

It’s important to reduce or eliminate the pain or discomfort, but it’s even more vital to restore function and strength to the neck and back. A spine that is no longer resilient to physical demands and stress leads to a lifetime of chronic back and neck problems. Having the strength and endurance in the muscles and supportive tissues of the back is critical to living a productive, vibrant life. Simple daily tasks like carrying bags of groceries, or emptying the clothes dryer or lifting a child become injurious to a spine weakened by an untreated whiplash injury.

No matter how big or small you believe the accident was, the forces of impact caused some degree of damage to your neck and back. Be sure to have a thorough evaluation by a doctor of chiropractic as soon as possible to reduce suffering and ensure a full, healthy recovery.