How Long Does Whiplash Last?

Aug 15, 2020

How Long Does Whiplash LastSuffering from whiplash can leave you feeling frustrated and helpless, as you struggle to regain some of the flexibility and mobility you had previously. Healing the tears and strains in the neck tissue is not an overnight process, but it is something that can be done with proper care by a Conyers whiplash chiropractor When a car accident moves your body in a sudden and violent manner, the neck tissue may suffer damage as a result of the unnatural velocity. However, most people do recover fully when whiplash treatment is applied.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

Common Timeline

For most people, whiplash is able to be completely addressed within about three months of sustaining the car accident injury. The initial days will be the hardest period of recovery and may require pain medication and rest to manage symptoms, while it will slowly become less painful over time. Much of whiplash treatment options is focused on slowly regaining movement and range of motion in the neck and shoulders so that the sufferer can perform the same activities they could prior to the injury.

As everybody’s body is different, so is every case of whiplash. Those with prior injuries to the back, neck, spine, or shoulders may have a longer recovery from whiplash as the initial damage is reactivated by the new injury. For this reason, older individuals may have a longer recovery from whiplash as they have suffered more injuries previously. It has also been shown that women are more likely to have a long recovery period when whiplash is present.

Shorten Recovery Time

While every case of whiplash is different, there are some common steps you can take to encourage your neck tissues to heal quickly. In conjunction with your Conyers orthopedic doctor’s instructions, these actions can help with your recovery time and pain management.

Apply Ice

Using ice or a cold pack on the neck can be particularly important in the immediate days following a car accident, as it will reduce swelling as well as alleviate neck pain. However, as you heal, ice can be an effective tool any time you are feeling uncomfortable. The ice should only be held to the neck for five to ten minutes at a time, but this can be done multiple times per day.

Support the Neck

You will most likely be instructed not to use a brace, as healing from whiplash relies on regaining strength and movement in the neck. However, you still want to support the neck when you are inactive. Using a pillow to support your neck while you sit or lie down can offer enough support to be helpful. Sleeping on your side or back is also recommended as you heal.

Manage Pain

When ice and general care are not helping, you may manage your pain with over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories. While it is best not to rely on medications, they can reduce inflammation and allow you to feel well enough to move your neck. You should always speak with your orthopedic doctor before taking any medications.


Once the initial pain has subsided, you can begin doing simple exercises to help with your range of motion and flexibility. Your doctor will likely suggest a set of exercises like tilting or rotating your head and shoulders. These exercises will become easier as your whiplash heals. All exercises should be gentle and carefully controlled as to not overexert the neck tissue.

Untreated Whiplash

When whiplash is left untreated, it is less likely to heal as quickly. In some cases, whiplash not only takes longer to heal, but can become a chronic condition. The damage caused by whiplash can be associated with other, more permanent damage that may lead to lifelong pain or trouble with range of motion in the neck and shoulders. When this happens, sufferers may never be able to return to their previous level of activity or work.

In addition to long-term pain, chronic whiplash can also lead to issues with vertigo and headaches that can be debilitating over time. There may also be a misalignment of the vertebrae and degenerative disc disease that can be linked to prior whiplash injuries.

If you have whiplash, the team at AICA Conyers orthopedics office wants you to recover as quickly and safely as possible. We will evaluate your injuries after a car accident to create an individualized plan that fits your lifestyle as well as your injuries. Contacting AICA Conyers as soon as you suffer from whiplash is one of the best ways to ensure your recovery goes smoothly and helps you reach previous levels of activity.