A whiplash injury is an injury sustained in the neck due to a forceful back-and-forth motion. This motion resembles the cracking of a whip, hence the term. The most common cause of a whiplash injury is a rear-end car accident. However, it can result from a variety of other accidents as well.
Were you or a loved one involved in an accident that caused a whiplash injury? If so, it is important to understand what these injuries typically involve, how to treat them, and what you can do to serve your best interests in the aftermath of the accident.
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How Serious Is a Whiplash Injury?
Many people with a whiplash injury are fully healed within a couple of weeks. In these situations, a combination of pain medication, exercise, and potentially physical therapy is used to treat the injury.
However, other instances of whiplash lead to chronic neck pain and other long-term complications that can result in lifelong changes.
What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
After an accident, many injuries and conditions are immediately apparent. However, whiplash symptoms might not develop until days after the injury, so it is important to remain vigilant and be patient with yourself throughout the process.
Typical symptoms of whiplash include all of the following:
- Neck pain
- Stiffness in the neck
- Condensed range of motion in the neck
- Chronic headaches
- Numbness and tingling sensations in the arms
- Pain in the shoulder and upper back
- Chronic fatigue
- Concentration issues
- Memory issues
- Blurry vision
With whiplash injuries, the symptoms can differ from person to person. One individual might experience a different set of symptoms from another. So if you are only experiencing a couple of symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have not sustained a serious injury.
A doctor can evaluate your condition and determine whether whiplash is present.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Experts recommend seeking medical treatment immediately after an accident. Even if you do not feel injured, seeing a doctor will allow medical professionals to determine whether you have a concussion or have sustained any other injuries. Similar to a concussion, whiplash injuries are not always immediately apparent.
Seeing a doctor will allow for a quick diagnosis and will prevent you from aggravating any serious issues that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
What Causes a Whiplash Injury?
Whiplash injuries usually occur when the head experiences powerful and sudden thrashing motions from one direction to another. If you imagine your neck cracking like a whip, you can get a picture of the concept of this injury.
This erratic motion is associated with spinal injuries, but it can also injure all of the following:
- Nerve damage
- Neck tissue
Anything that causes a forceful movement in the spine from one direction to another can result in a whiplash injury. Common scenarios include automobile accidents, physical altercations, and contact sports.
What Complications Can Result from Whiplash?
Some people with whiplash injuries will feel better once the bruising and swelling subside. However, whiplash can occasionally lead to more serious complications. In fact, some people have reported pain that lasts for months or years following a whiplash injury.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to predict how a whiplash injury will affect someone. There are so many nuances that depend on a variety of factors, such as the nature and location of the accident, where the person was hit, and what hit them.
Chronic issues from whiplash injuries can involve intense neck pain, limited range of motion in the neck and shoulders, and pain moving from your neck to your arms.
If you are experiencing any pain that seems abnormal, you should consult a qualified medical professional. Like concussions, whiplash injuries are not injuries you want to leave unexamined.
In addition to chronic complications, certain factors have been linked to more serious complications.
These factors include:
- Recurring whiplash
- Advanced age
- Pre-existing neck and back problems
- Previous injuries sustained at high velocity
More extensive complications that could arise from a whiplash injury include nerve damage, fractures, and neck dislocation. You could also develop depression or experience post-traumatic stress as a result of your injury.
What Happens When Whiplash Goes Untreated?
Leaving your whiplash untreated can have serious ramifications and lead to long-term issues. For example, untreated whiplash has been linked to degenerative disc disease. This is when the discs between the vertebrae and spinal column break down and cause problems such as weakness and numbness.
If you have experienced intense whiplash, it could tear the muscles in your neck and upper back, which could damage your upper cervical spine. Fortunately, consulting a medical professional immediately after the accident will enable doctors to spot any underlying issues that would otherwise remain unnoticed.
How Is Whiplash Treated?
Most treatments for whiplash involve the use of pain medication and specific exercises. The goal of treatment is to manage your existing pain and restore your range of motion.
A Qualified St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Obtain Compensation for a Whiplash Injury
If you or a loved one have been in an accident that resulted in a whiplash injury, you may be entitled to compensation. The best way to find out is to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. They will be able to provide advice, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you if the case moves to trial.
When it comes to personal injury experience, the dedicated attorneys at Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers have been securing settlements against insurance companies in Missouri for over 30 years. Since 2002, we have recovered over $70 million for our clients.
Our legal fees are completely contingency-based — meaning we do not get paid unless we win. Contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn how we may be able to help you.