One of the most prominent car crash injuries is whiplash. Whiplash is neck strain that occurs when your head violently rocks forward and back, such as in a rear-end collision. While you may think it is just an issue that will go away with time, it can be a lot more serious than you think.

According to Mayo Clinic, whiplash can result in long-term or even chronic pain. This means the neck pain from your car accident has the possibility of lasting several months or years – or perhaps even longer.

Complications and risk factors

You are more likely to develop longer-lasting whiplash if you:

  • Are of older age
  • Have had whiplash before
  • Have an existing neck or low back pain

The intensity and quickness of the initial symptoms may also play a role in predicting whether you will have a worse outcome. If you had headaches, severe neck pain and pain spreading to your arms at the onset of your injury, you may be at a higher risk of developing a chronic issue.

Diagnosing whiplash

Your doctor may perform a physical examination that involves moving your head, arms and neck. This determines:

  • The range of motion in your shoulders and neck
  • Tenderness in your shoulders, neck or back
  • What type or degree of motion causes pain
  • Strength, sensation and reflexes of your limbs

Additionally, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI. This will help figure out if there are any fractures, arthritis, dislocations, bone damage or soft tissue damage.

Treating whiplash

Your doctor will create a treatment plan specific to your unique condition. Most treatment involves a mixture of pain management, exercise and physical therapy.

Make sure you do not neglect to get medical care if you have any pain in your neck after an auto accident. Also, do not accept initial, lowball offers from insurance companies until you know the full extent of your whiplash.