Whiplash is most commonly associated with rear-end crashes, but this type of neck injury can happen in any automobile accident. Other causes include boxing, other sports, hard falls, abuse, or assault.
For most, it is a relatively minor—albeit painful—injury that slowly gets better over a few days or weeks. However, some people may develop chronic pain due to whiplash injuries. Below, you will learn more about whiplash injuries and the aftermath, explained.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury similar to a sprain or strain of another joint in the body. It occurs when the neck is “whipped” backward and forward and goes beyond its normal range of motion. This damages the soft tissues that stabilize the head, neck, and shoulders. It can cause damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and more.
Symptoms do not always appear immediately. In some cases, they may develop in a few hours or the following day. Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Pain in the neck, front of the neck, upper back, and shoulders
- Stiffness that makes it painful to turn the head
- Muscle spasms
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory issues, anxiety, and other related concerns
Some people may also have additional symptoms if their injuries involve nerve damage. According to The European Spine Journal, whiplash sufferers could experience damage to the long thoracic nerve and/or spinal accessory nerve.
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What Treatment Is Required for Whiplash?
Diagnosing whiplash after an accident or injury may require:
- A physical exam in which you inform your physician of your medical history, the incident which caused your injuries, and your symptoms
- Computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Once the doctor has a good idea that whiplash is the diagnosis and there are no underlying spinal cord or disc injuries, they will develop a treatment plan. In most cases, they will begin with conservative treatment. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, your treatment plan could depend on:
- Your age and medical history
- Any other injuries you suffered
- The results of any medical imaging
- Limitations (such as range of motion) identified during the physical exam
- Your pain level
Treatment may include:
- Ice to reduce swelling
- A soft cervical collar to stabilize the injury for a limited time
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
- Muscle relaxers
- Prescription painkillers, as needed
The Possible Need for Physical Therapy
If there is no improvement or a history of similar injuries, your doctor may refer you to physical therapy. Some doctors may recommend osteopathic manipulation (chiropractic care) depending on your injuries, the doctor’s preferences, and your needs.
Are There Lasting Effects of Whiplash?
Whiplash is relatively minor for most people. They may have soreness and stiffness for a week or two, but it generally resolves relatively quickly. However, some people may have ongoing pain and symptoms for months or even years.
You are at an increased risk for developing a chronic pain condition if:
- You are older
- You have a previous upper back or neck injury
In addition, according to Mayo Clinic, some initial symptoms may indicate that you could develop chronic pain due to your whiplash injury. This includes:
- Your symptoms developed rapidly after the incident
- You have severe neck pain
- You have a very limited range of motion
- Your pain spread to your shoulders and arms
If your injury symptoms do not clear up within a few weeks of your diagnosis, you should see your doctor to determine if physical therapy or another treatment might help. Pain management is possible, but severe injuries could keep you out of work longer or force you to consider a new career.
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Can I Recover Compensation for a Whiplash Accident Injury?
If another party caused your accident and you have whiplash, you may be able to pursue a case and hold the liable party legally responsible. This will allow you to recover money damages for your medical bills, lost time at work, pain and suffering, and more. A personal injury lawyer from our team may be able to help you with this process.
These cases often settle out of court via a negotiated insurance settlement. The insurer representing the at-fault party will review the evidence we represent, and we are able to negotiate a payout with them based on this. If not, we can sue the negligent party and ask a jury to award appropriate damages for our client.
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Speak to a Loncar Lyon Jenkins Attorney About Your Whiplash Injury
You can get a free case evaluation from a team member at Loncar Lyon Jenkins today. Our attorneys help injured parties and families who lost someone seek compensation for their damages. If you were hurt in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, or a nearby area, we are here for you. Call in the Strong Arm.