Just after being involved in a car wreck, it’s not uncommon to feel pain in your head and neck. Perhaps you also notice stiffness in your neck or an inability to turn your head. It’s also possible that it takes days or even weeks after the crash for you to realize that you have recurring headaches or tenderness in your neck and shoulders.
These symptoms are indicators of whiplash. You might begin to wonder: “How long does whiplash last?”
The answer to this question is that “It depends.” The severity of your whiplash injury will determine how long you can expect to experience symptoms. But beware of symptoms that:
- Do not respond to home remedies
- Get worse over time
- Significantly interfere with your daily life
If you experience these symptoms, you should be evaluated and treated by a doctor.
How Whiplash Injuries Happen in Personal Injury Accidents
Whiplash is the result of your head moving rapidly forward and backward as the result of an external force. While common in motor vehicle crashes like car accidents and semi truck crashes, you can suffer whiplash as the result of other personal injury events as well. For instance, you might experience the condition following a slip and fall, when you hit your head, or if you are the victim of physical violence.
When your head swings rapidly in this manner, the movement places strain and stress on the muscles of your neck, back, and shoulders. These muscles can become sprained, causing soreness and tenderness. You can also experience a reduction in your range of motion and be unable to turn your head as far or move it as much as you previously could.
Whiplash additionally puts strain on your spinal cord, which is housed within the vertebrae of your neck. The spinal cord runs from the base of your brain down your back and is responsible for sending and receiving neural messages and signals. Injury to the spinal cord can lead to feelings of tingling, numbness, or extreme pain.
Classifying Whiplash Injuries
If you are wondering, “How long does whiplash last,” you need to know how severe your whiplash injuries are. Whiplash is graded on a scale of zero to four, with zero being the least severe and four being the most severe. The scale and corresponding injuries are as follows:
- Grade 0 whiplash results in no injuries to the neck or surrounding tissues
- Grade 1 whiplash is characterized by pain in the neck
- Grade 2 whiplash injuries include pain in the neck and in the surrounding area
- Grade 3 whiplash has signs of Grade 2 and indicators of possible neurological damage
Grade 4 whiplash means you are likely experiencing significant pain and neurological effects such as headaches, seizures, or loss of sensation.
How Long Does Whiplash Last?
There is no definitive answer for how long whiplash lasts. The time it takes for you to recover will depend not only on the severity of your whiplash but also on your general health and the treatment options you take. Minor whiplash injuries, such as those found with Grade 1 and Grade 2 whiplash, might only need ice therapy and rest to resolve. Grade 3 and Grade 4 whiplash can take significantly longer to heal.
A general timeline would include:
- Grade 0 does not require any recovery time, as there are no injuries
- Grade 1 and Grade 2 whiplash may take several weeks before the pain subsides
- Grade 3 whiplash can take as many as six months or more to heal
- Grade 4 whiplash, the most severe type of whiplash, may last for a year or more before you get better
Essentially, the sooner you access treatment for your whiplash, the quicker you can expect to recover. Following your doctor’s orders, keeping follow-up appointments, and promptly visiting any specialists who are recommended can also help shorten your recovery period.
Recovery Is Possible After Whiplash
Whiplash-related pain is not something you should have to live with and endure. If you notice pain in your neck, shoulders, or head after any injury accident, do not ignore these symptoms. Depending on the severity of your whiplash, you may be encouraged to undergo one or more different treatment protocols. However, with appropriate treatment and the passage of time, you should expect your whiplash injuries to resolve.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines