What Is Chronic Whiplash?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2019
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Chronic whiplash is a neck injury that occurs when a person is in an accident that causes his neck to first move forward and then backward with sudden speed. This movement causes pain and stiffness in the neck, and some people also suffer from fatigue, dizziness, and blurry vision. In many cases, people develop whiplash that only lasts for a short period of time, such as a few weeks. When whiplash symptoms linger on for months, however, an individual may have a case of chronic whiplash. In fact, some people even report chronic whiplash symptoms years after the accident that caused the injury.

Whiplash is an injury that often occurs when a car is hit from behind. When this happens, the impact of the accident forces the driver’s or passenger's neck forward, and then backward just as suddenly. This typically results in painful and troubling symptoms that last for several weeks. In some cases, however, the symptoms of whiplash can last for a long-term period. When the symptoms last for an extended amount of time, the injury is referred to as chronic whiplash.


The symptoms a person has with chronic whiplash are usually the same as those a person develops with a short-term case of the injury. The most common symptoms include pain and stiffness that make moving the neck difficult. An individual may also suffer from headache pain in conjunction with this injury. Usually, such whiplash-related headaches are most prevalent at the base of the affected person’s skull. Some people also have such symptoms as dizziness and fatigue; visual disturbances, such as blurriness, may develop as well.

Sometimes a person who is suffering from chronic whiplash also suffers from less common symptoms. For example, an individual with this condition may notice problems with his memory or note that he has a more difficult time concentrating. Others may have sleeping difficulties that are related to the condition and notice an increase in irritability. There have even been reports of ringing in the ears that develops because of chronic whiplash.

Treatments for chronic whiplash often include collars that limit neck movement, though there is some evidence that this type of treatment may prolong the time it takes to heal. Pain killers and muscle relaxers may also prove helpful. Many people also benefit from physical therapy when they are dealing with a long-term case of whiplash.



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