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Why is Whiplash Pain Often Delayed?

Whiplash is a neck injury that most commonly occurs during auto accidents. It develops from a fast, vigorous back-and-forth motion of the neck. 

Pain from whiplash is often delayed for hours or even days. This can prolong patients’ recovery process and lead to worsened symptoms. 

The Reasons Behind Delayed Whiplash Pain


One of the key reasons behind delayed whiplash pain is the body’s fight or flight response. In a car accident, in particular, the body releases adrenaline into the bloodstream.

Adrenaline is a type of stress hormone that prepares your body to respond to a threat. It dilates your blood vessels and airways for increased oxygen, boosts circulation to the muscles, and even reduces sensations of pain. 

The adrenaline rush that occurs during a car accident can numb the pain from whiplash. Until your adrenaline levels decrease, you may not notice whiplash symptoms.   

Delayed Inflammation

Additionally, it can take time for your immune system to trigger inflammation around the injured area. Once your body registers the inflammation, it may have been hours or days since the injury occurred. 

Short-Term Effects of The Accident

After a car accident, sports accident, major fall, or another type of physical trauma, many people don’t recognize whiplash symptoms as signs of the injury. They may write off the pain as a short-term effect of the accident, rather than an indication of a larger problem. 

Symptoms of Whiplash

  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness
  • Headache
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Irritability
  • Memory issues

Following a car accident, sports injury, or any form of physical trauma, visit a physician for a complete evaluation. Even if you’re not yet experiencing symptoms of whiplash, your physician can check for this injury and prescribe a treatment plan. 

Schedule an appointment at Florida Wellness Medical Group to speak with one of our trained physicians.