If you’re suffering from whiplash – pain and stiffness caused by unnatural movement of the neck – you’re likely more than ready to be fully recovered. Not only is this condition painful, but also it can dramatically reduce your quality of life, making it difficult to work or spend time with loved ones. So, how long does whiplash last?
How Long Does Whiplash Last?
First, let’s review the basics of whiplash. Characterized by pain and stiffness in the neck, whiplash occurs when your head is forced to snap rapidly from one direction to the other. That pushes your neck beyond its everyday range of motion. The condition is most often the result of rear-end car collisions, which may suddenly throw passengers’ necks backward and forward.
How Long Does the Condition Last?
The bad news: Whiplash can be extremely painful and frustrating. The good news: Whiplash symptoms typically don’t linger beyond three months at the absolute maximum, as reported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In fact, average recovery time is typically closer to a few days or a few weeks at the most. With proper treatment, your doctor will be able to control your pain and restore your neck’s range of motion. That way, you can get back to living your life without any long-term whiplash complications.
Managing Whiplash During Treatment
Although the symptoms of whiplash don’t typically linger for long, you’ll still want to know how to manage the condition during the course of your treatment. Depending on the severity of your treatment plan, your doctor will likely walk you through several management tactics ranging from over-the-counter medication to physical therapy. If you have a minor case, your doctor will likely recommend relatively small lifestyle changes to speed up your healing:
- Lidocaine Injection: Your doctor may inject your neck with lidocaine, a numbing agent that will temporarily decrease pain and help you ease into physical therapy.
- Foam Collars: Immediately after a whiplash diagnosis, your doctor may also give you a foam collar to keep your neck stable. However, remember to remove these collars after a few hours, and try to avoid them after a few days have passed since your accident. In general, you’ll actually want to avoid resting your neck for long periods of time to help reduce stiffness.
- Applying Heat or Cold: Your doctor may recommend that you apply heat or cold to your neck for 15 minutes every three hours or so. This can help relieve symptoms and speed up long-term healing.
- Pain Medications: For mild whiplash cases, your doctor will likely prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). If you’re struggling with more severe whiplash symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller or a muscle relaxer. These medications may also help restore normal sleep habits if your pain is making it tough to fall asleep.
So, how long does whiplash last? In most cases, a proper course of treatment can help you manage the condition in a matter of days or weeks, although the occasional severe case could last up to three months. When in doubt, working with a pain specialist with extensive experience is your best course of action.
If you were recently in an accident and have symptoms of whiplash, contact National Dizzy and Balance Center. We specialize in diagnosing and treating health conditions like vertigo, dizziness, balance disorders, concussions, and whiplash. Our talented team members can evaluate your health and design a personalized plan to relieve your symptoms. To learn more, please contact us online or by phone. Or if you’re ready to get started, schedule your free medical consultation today.