Identifying and Understanding Whiplash
Whiplash is a very common injury after a car accident, but it is frequently misunderstood and mistreated. Ensure that you have an accurate understanding of this condition, which you might not realize can result in long-term symptoms, and seek compensation from the responsible party so that you have the resources you need to recover fully.
What is Whiplash?
Generally, whiplash is caused by car accidents where the victim is in a car that is rear-ended, but it can also occur as the result of sports injuries or physical assault, such as being punched in the head. In any case, an impact causes the victim’s head to whip back and forth, which can lead to damage to soft tissues such as ligaments, muscles, and nerves, but can also chip bones in the neck and spine, and discs in the spine. Whiplash may also be called “neck sprain” or “neck strain.”
How can I tell if I have whiplash?
Generally, the symptoms of whiplash do not appear until a day or more after the accident or other precipitating event. For most people, symptoms include neck soreness and stiffness, headaches, a smaller range of motion in the neck or pain when moving the neck, dizziness, numbness and tingling in the arms, and tenderness in the neck and shoulders. Some people may experience more serious symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating or remembering things, blurred vision, irritability, depression, and sleep disturbances.
How is whiplash diagnosed and treated?
When you see your doctor, they will likely examine your neck by touch to check your range of motion, as well as the amount of pressure it requires to cause pain. The doctor may also order x-rays of the affected area, a CT scan, and an MRI scan, to ensure that you have not broken any bones or incurred a concussion. Treatments include rest, ice or heat treatments, over the counter pain medications such as Advil and Tylenol, prescription pain medications, muscle relaxants, and numbing lidocaine injections. Doctors may also recommend neck exercises which restore range of motion, and possibly physical therapy.
What are the possible long-term effects of whiplash?
Most people who develop whiplash after a car or truck crash will recover within a few months. However, in some whiplash patients, the pain will persist for longer, sometimes lasting for years.