So you walked away from a rear-end car accident with only a few bumps and bruises, and a sore neck. However, it is now a few days later and your neck pain is increasing and becoming worrisome, which likely means you are suffering from whiplash.
Because of post-accident shock, you may not have realized the severity of your injury immediately after your rear-end collision. Whiplash symptoms could become evident days after an accident.
If this happens to you, the first thing to do is seek medical attention.
What Is Whiplash?
Simply stated, whiplash is a neck injury, which is poorly understood not only by health care providers but also by people who have sustained the injury. The injury generally involves the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in your neck.
Whiplash could also be referred to as neck sprain or neck strain, but it is medically known as cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome. This part of the body is so sensitive to trauma that a minuscule tear in a vessel can leave you in a lot of pain.
Whiplash is caused by the quick movement of the head from one direction to another causing the neck to be overextended or overstretched. The impact which causes the whiplash can come from any direction, and the head may move backward or sideways. It is a common misconception that the head must move only forward to back in order for a whiplash injury to be sustained.
Although the most common cause of whiplash is a rear-end car accident, whiplash can occur due to a hit from any angle. EVEN AN ACCIDENT AT A SLOWER SPEED CAN CAUSE WHIPLASH. An article from the Cleveland Clinic stresses that whiplash can also be caused by other accidents, not simply vehicle collision.
7 Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash
According to Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of whiplash usually – but not always – develop within 24 hours of an accident. In some instances, effects from an accident resulting in whiplash can take days to manifest.
7 symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Muscle spasms
- Worsening of pain, or decreased range of motion, with neck movement
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness, tingling, numbness, and/or pain in the shoulder, upper back, arms, and/or hand
- Swelling of the neck area
- Fatigue and/or Dizziness
Experiencing other Symptoms? Some people may also have:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
Most people who have whiplash feel better within a few weeks. However, some people continue to have pain for several months or years after the injury occurred.
How Can You Know For Sure That You Have Whiplash?
When you get an MRI, a CT scan, or X-ray if you suspect that you have whiplash, most people have normal imaging results. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE INJURY-FREE!
Normal imaging results often come back because the injury or injuries occurred are too small to be detected on tests. This can be true even if you are in pain. As such, diagnosing whiplash remains primarily symptom-based. Knowing the symptoms and what to look for is critical in whiplash diagnosis.
However, the commonality of normal imagining results does not mean that you should not get proper imaging done if your doctor recommends it. Each situation is different and all of the necessary precautions should be taken to avoid leaving a serious injury untreated.
How Long Will Whiplash Last?
It will typically go away within a few days and for more extreme cases several months. However, 12 to 50 percent of people still experience pain into and after one year.
You are more likely to have longer-lasting pain if:
- the pain is severe from the start
- pain develops immediately following the accident
- you are experiencing neurological symptoms
- your pain moves into your arm(s) and fingers
CHRONIC PAIN DUE TO A WHIPLASH INJURY DOES HAPPEN! If you are experiencing any of the signs of whiplash, call your doctor.
Some People are More Prone to Getting Whiplash!
You could be somebody who is more susceptible to whiplash if you are:
- A victim in a rear-end car accident
- Not at fault in your accident
- Hit when your car is stopped
- A woman
- Suffering from neck pain or have a history of neck pain
- Continuously performing strenuous activities or have an active job
How Can I Treat Whiplash?
Treatment options and care are usually one or a combination of the following:
- Icing to help reduce swelling, especially in the first 24 hours
- Neck brace
- Activity and movement after the first 24 hours (if cleared by a doctor, ensuring that there are no other major issues associated with the injury)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Pain medications
- Physical Therapy
- Heat application to relieve muscle tension
Always follow the medications, treatments, and rehabilitation prescribed by your doctor.
Treatment, especially of more severe injuries or injuries that manifest into chronic pain, is expensive. You may be owed compensation that could help with your medical bills.
If you were in a Rear-End Automobile Collision that Resulted in Whiplash, Who is at Fault?
In Florida, the assumed responsibility is the person in the rear, although that is not always the case. Florida abides by pure comparative negligence: It must be determined who was negligent and the degree of their negligence. The percentage of fault is determined and damages are distributed accordingly.