How Long Does Whiplash Last? When To Return to Work

If you were in a car accident in Tennessee and sustained whiplash, you might be wondering how long you’ll need to miss work in order to heal. Whiplash is a common injury sustained in vehicle accidents, often resulting from the head being suddenly jerked back and forth. This type of motion can cause strain or tears to the muscles and ligaments in the neck and shoulder region.

Recovering from whiplash usually requires taking some time off work, but how much time you will need away depends on several factors. In this article, experienced Tennessee personal injury attorneys will provide guidance on how long you may need to be off work with whiplash and what to consider when deciding when to return to work after suffering this type of injury in a car accident.

What is Whiplash? Causes & Symptoms

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that occurs when the head and neck are suddenly forced back and forth, most often due to the impact of a rear-end car collision. This rapid back-and-forth motion strains the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck and shoulder area.

Whiplash is considered one of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents. The symptoms of whiplash may appear immediately after the collision or can take days or even weeks to manifest. Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pain or numbness in the shoulders, arms, and hands
  • Reduced range of motion when turning the head from side to side
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory and concentration problems

The severity of whiplash can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, symptoms may resolve after a few days or weeks. However, more severe cases can result in chronic pain and disability. Prompt medical diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to effectively managing whiplash.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Whiplash?

The amount of time it takes to fully recover from whiplash depends on several factors, including:

  • The severity of the injury sustained
  • The type of treatment received
  • The individual’s age and overall health

Those with relatively minor whiplash injuries often recover within a few weeks with traditional treatment methods like ice, rest, pain medication, and gentle stretching exercises. However, recovery can take longer depending on the severity of injury. Moderate to severe whiplash cases with extensive ligament damage may require several months of recovery or longer.

According to research, around 50% of those who experience whiplash injuries recover within the first two to three months. For some, symptoms can last for a year or longer. In addition, whiplash heals more slowly in older and medically predisposed individuals than in younger, healthier ones.

It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan and allow your body adequate time to heal after suffering whiplash. While it varies case-by-case, the plan for recovery is to take at least a few weeks. Listen to what your body is telling you and don’t try to push yourself to return to normal activity before you are ready.

How Long Should You Be Off Work for Whiplash?

If you have suffered a whiplash injury in a Tennessee car accident, how long should you plan to be off work? Here are some general timelines to consider:

  • Minor whiplash – Usually 1-2 weeks away from work is sufficient for mild whiplash cases. However, listen to your body and don’t return to work until your pain and range of motion have improved.
  • Moderate whiplash – Plan for 2-6 weeks away from work to allow for adequate recovery time if you have moderate whiplash symptoms. Your doctor may recommend specific treatment like physical therapy during this time.
  • Severe whiplash – Severe whiplash that causes extensive injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments could require 2 months or longer off work depending on your recovery progress. Follow your physician’s guidance regarding when you can return to work.
  • Very severe, chronic whiplash – In the most serious whiplash cases involving herniated discs or pinched nerves, you may be off work for 6 months or more. Returning to work too soon could exacerbate the injury. Work closely with your doctor to determine when you are physically ready.

Keep in mind that the timeline will vary based on your unique injury circumstances. Don’t try to force yourself back to work before you are healed – this could prolong your recovery. Ask your doctor when it is safe to return and discuss accommodations that may help ease your transition back to work.

Factors That Determine When You Can Return to Work After Whiplash

There are a few important factors that will determine when it is appropriate to return to work after suffering whiplash in a car accident:

  • Your job duties – If you have a physical job that requires heavy lifting, turning your head frequently, or keeping your neck in one position for prolonged periods, you will need more recovery time before returning than someone with a desk job that allows for stretching and changing positions.
  • Your level of pain – Make sure you can turn your head and move your neck without significant pain before trying to go back to work. The pain should be minimal enough that it won’t prevent you from performing your job duties.
  • Your range of motion – Your ability to move your neck and head freely in all directions without limitation is a good sign you are ready to return to work. Restricted range of motion could hinder your work performance.
  • Your doctor’s guidance – Your physician’s opinion on when you can safely resume your normal work activities should play a major role in your return-to-work timeline. Don’t try to return prematurely against medical advice.
  • Use of medications – If you are still relying heavily on pain medications to get through the day, you likely need more recovery time before going back to work, especially for jobs requiring you to operate machinery.

Listen to what your body is telling you and don’t push yourself to return before you are truly ready. Doing so can actually prolong your whiplash recovery. Discuss your job duties with your doctor so they can provide tailored guidance on when you can safely resume working after suffering whiplash injuries in a Tennessee car accident.

Let A TN Personal Injury Lawyer Help You.

A whiplash injury can result in significant medical expenses, lost income due to time off work, and other costs.

If you were injured and forced to miss work because of someone else’s reckless driving, consult with a car accident lawyer in Tennessee for help recovering compensation for your losses.

Don’t wait to get legal help after suffering whiplash in a Tennessee car accident. Contact the dedicated attorneys at Pickford Law for a free consultation and case evaluation.