What Happens If I Don’t Get My Whiplash Treated?

Whiplash is the common term people use for injuries to the neck after a car accident. The severity of the injury is determined by many different factors and is not always associated with the severity of pain. It is important to seek out qualified chiropractic care immediately after an accident to help identify the severity and appropriate care. Left untreated, the long-term effects of a whiplash injury can have serious, negative impact on your health.

Typical symptoms of whiplash include neck pain or stiffness, headaches, pain across the top of the shoulders, dizziness and limited mobility in the neck. Fortunately, with the right chiropractic care, most injured people respond well in a few weeks. However, if not treated properly or treated at all, up to 50% of the injured still suffer pain or disability one year after the injury.

Long-term Effects Of Untreated Whiplash

Part of the whiplash injury involves small, micro tears of the ligaments and muscles in your neck. These injured tissues then affect the motion of your spinal joints, in most cases causing them to be limited. This will then cause irritation and inflammation of the joint lining and the nerves surrounding the joint.

Untreated whiplash can lead to such serious conditions as:

* Chronic Neck Pain
* Dizziness or Vertigo
* Chronic Headaches
* Degenerative Disc Disease

Each of these long-term effects can become their own full-blown condition if not treated quickly.

Chronic Neck Pain

Untreated whiplash can develop into a chronic pain cycle, long after the accident has occurred. Injured muscles and ligaments have a specific cycle of repair that must be managed correctly. When untreated injured muscles and ligaments are repeatedly stressed, it causes inflammation of the joints and tissue, irritating the nerves and causing a repetitive pain cycle. This pain also causes difficulty and limitations in performing normal daily tasks.

Vertigo or Dizziness

Dizziness is a general term used for an uncomfortable sense of confusion, it includes such things as vertigo, lightheartedness, imbalance and any disorienting condition. Vertigo is a specific kind of dizziness that involves a spinning sensation. It is reported that “Between 40% and 70% of those suffering from persistent WAD have these symptoms [dizziness and unsteadiness] and they are often associated with reports of loss of balance and falls.”

Neck injuries can cause these types of symptoms if there is injury to the inner ear or to the little joints in the neck. Whiplash injuries are commonly known to cause cervicogenic dizziness, which in most cases is helped by adjustments of the neck joints.


Headaches are one of the most common symptoms after a whiplash injury. The pain can begin in the neck and radiate up the back or sides of the head, even reaching to the forehead. In many cases this is due to irritation of the nerves from the spine that run up and around the head, or spastic neck muscles pulling on the base of the skull.

Left untreated, this source of headaches from the neck can develop a chronic patter of pain. Stress on the neck and upper back can result in increased irritation and inflammation of the joints and nerves, causing repeated headaches.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Another serious long term effect of untreated whiplash: it can contribute to degenerative disc disease. This is a condition that occurs when the cartilage like disc between the vertebra begin to break down or deteriorate. This can lead to chronic pain and possible nerve root compression if it advances.

You Should Treat Whiplash Immediately

If you have been involved in a car accident, you should seek care immediately from a Chiropractic Physician trained to handle whiplash, soft tissue injuries. Due to the complex repair process that begins immediately after trauma, proper management is key if you want the best chance at a full recovery. You definitely do not want to “wait and see” what will happen.

Since graduating in 1984, Dr. Schmaltz has years of helping injured patients. After a through history, examination and the necessary x-rays, he will sit down with you and map out an individualized treatment and recovery plan for your injuries. His goal is not to just help you get out of pain, but to help get your life back on track from the injury! Call today at (314) 731-4383 or CLICK TO CALL AND MAKE AN APPOINTMENT