What are the symptoms of a whiplash injury?

What are the symptoms of a whiplash injury?You’ve doubtless got a lot on your mind already if you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident, least of which being ‘is that pain in my neck whiplash,’ so do you or don’t you?

Well, the short answer is ‘maybe,’ but the long answer isn’t much better: it’s ‘maybe, but it’s a bit complicated, and you might not know until it’s too late.’ However, instead of wondering if you should go and see your GP or not, here’s a quick-and-dirty guide for spotting the symptoms of a whiplash injury in the wake of a car accident.

One lump or two?

One of the first things you’re going to need to know is that there are two different types of whiplash – acute and chronic – and they each have their own set of symptoms. Acute whiplash is painful, but thankfully doesn’t much longer than a few months, while chronic whiplash can last for half a year or more and is usually accompanied by much worse symptoms.

Acute whiplash is rather cut-and-dry: you’ve got your stiffness or soreness in your neck and shoulders, you have the possibility of headaches, and you might also feel some tenderness in your back and experience some swelling in your neck as well. However, chronic whiplash has all these things and more – and it can be very debilitating indeed.


One of the worst things about chronic whiplash – besides the fact that it can last for months and months, resulting in a rather poor quality of life, missed work, and perhaps necessitating you to make a whiplash claim – is paraesthesia, a condition that leaves you feeling like  you’ve got pins and needles all up and down your arms and hands. It can range from intermittent to nearly constant, which can lead to some serious related issues  such as depression and anxiety.

In fact, the psychological symptoms of chronic whiplash can be just as debilitating as the physical ones. Constantly being bombarded with that pins-and-needles feeling for months on end is usually enough to make anyone crack, and when you combine it with the other most-often described chronic whiplash symptoms such as dizziness and vertigo, anxiety and depression can develop very quickly in whiplash sufferers to the point where it’s a wonder they can even get out of bed most days.

Any more good news?

There are some other symptoms that are common to people suffering from both acute and chronic whiplash. There’s all sorts of lovely experiences in store for many whiplash sufferers, such as muscle spasms and lower back pain, fatigue and blurred vision, and tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing in the ears that’s usually reserved for rock stars or construction workers who don’t wear ear protection.

If that wasn’t enough, you can also look forward to a few more wonderful symptoms as well, though of course only the most unlucky of whiplash sufferers have to deal with all these symptoms at once. However, you should be prepared to experience impairment to your ability to concentrate, an inability to remember things as clearly as you used to, and just general irritability, with the last one rather common – especially after dealing with all the other symptoms for months on end!

The onset time for whiplash symptoms following an accident can be as soon as six hours afterwards to as long as a full day. No matter how long between the initial incident and your onset of symptoms, get yourself to your GP if you begin experiencing any of these – and if  you were injured through no fault of your own, you may consider your next stop to be a whiplash injury solicitor as well.

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