According to the Mayo Clinic, “whiplash” is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. If you’ve ever seen someone use a whip, you’ll recall how even small actions can lead to violent movements. In fact, the sound you hear when a whip cracks is actually a miniature sonic boom.
In the context of a whiplash injury suffered in an accident, the most common cause is rear-end car accidents where a stationary vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle. The uncontrolled movement can seriously and permanently damage the soft tissue in your neck, leading to lifelong, debilitating injuries.
Whiplash Signs and Symptoms
Your neck and head contain some of the most critical nerves and muscles in your body. In a whiplash accident, it’s possible to strain or tear muscles and tendons in your neck, to bruise nerves that run along your spine and arms, or to suffer a concussion.
These injuries can all take time to become noticeable. It’s possible to get in a car accident and not develop symptoms until days or even weeks later. The soft tissue that’s hurt in a whiplash injury takes time to swell and stiffen, so many people find that their injuries get worse over time instead of healing.
Some warning signs and symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck stiffness and pain
- Neck pain that gets worse with movement
- Headaches that begin at the back of your neck
- Pain and tenderness in the shoulders, arms, and upper back
- Tingling or numbness in the hands and arms
- Blurred vision
- Memory problem
If you notice any of these medical issues developing in the days and weeks following a car accident, you may should see a doctor and have yourself evaluated. Whether the cause is whiplash or some other soft tissue injury, it is critical for your long term health that you receive treatment for your injury.
Treatment and Convalescence
There’s no quick fix for whiplash and other soft tissue injuries that result from car accidents. Torn muscles and tendons take time to heal, and the pain and stiffness in your neck will likely take a while to fade.
If your doctor diagnoses you with whiplash, he or she may prescribe one or more of the following treatments to help reduce your pain and heal as quickly as possible:
- Icing your neck several times a day
- Taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
- Taking prescribed muscle relaxants
- Wearing a neck brace for several weeks
Your doctor may also recommend you take time off work so you can rest and recover more effectively.
Concurrent Injuries Can Also Be Serious
Many times, whiplash is just one type of injury suffered by accident victims. If you also have a concussion, for example, you may also need time off from work to fully recover; your brain needs time to rest and heal without the stress of work and commuting. If you aren’t able to take this time off, you may experience long-lasting repercussions such as post-concussion syndrome.
If you’ve recently been in a car accident and suspect you have whiplash, you need to make sure you take care of your health first. Go see a doctor and get checked out. Then, reach out to our expert whiplash attorneys today to learn about your options and make a plan to get the compensation you need to treat your injuries appropriately.