One of the most common injuries received in a car accident is whiplash. When you have whiplash, it’s important to make sure that it’s properly treated. While many people regard whiplash as minor, the reality is that, in some cases, it’s possible to continue to be affected by the injury even years after receiving it.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the neck that occurs when faced with a sudden acceleration or deceleration. In the case of a car accident, the injury is often cause by a sudden stop. The car itself stops moving (usually because it has been hit by something else), but your body continues to move forward until caught (hopefully by the seatbelt you are moving).
This can also happen due to a sudden change of direction for the car, as a result of an accident or some other issue. Whiplash can happen in other situations, such as when you are riding a roller coaster, but it is most commonly associated with car accidents.
In most cases, whiplash isn’t going to be life threatening. However, some estimates indicate that about 25 percent of insurance claims paid out each year are related to whiplash. That’s a fairly significant amount.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
If you have been in a car accident, especially one in which you are hit from behind while your car is stationary, it’s important to pay attention to your body for indications that you have whiplash. Some of the symptoms of whiplash include:
- Stiffness in the neck and/or shoulders
- Pain in the neck and/or shoulders
- Back pain and/or stiffness
- Arm pain and/or weakness
- Jaw pain
- Ringing in the ears
In some of the more serious and chronic cases, whiplash can be accompanied by trouble sleeping, anxiety, and other problems that result from chronic pain and the stress related to an accident.
Whiplash is often diagnosed by a doctor or other medical professional who listens to your symptoms and then determines that whiplash is the problem. In some cases, he or she might order an x-ray or MRI in order to find out if there are other injuries to your neck or back. Sometimes, soft tissue injuries don’t seem apparent as quickly as you would like.
While you can get checked out immediately following an accident, it’s important to understand that sometimes the symptoms of whiplash take a day or two to manifest. Pay attention, and seek a medical opinion if you have trouble following your accident.
The treatment for whiplash varies depending on the symptoms you have, and what your health care provider decides is best. One of the first things that you might be asked to do as a treatment to whiplash is to wear a soft collar. This can reduce how much you can move your head, and prevent further injury.
However, even if you are asked to wear a collar, your health care provider might suggest other treatments. Rather than keeping your neck mostly immobile, you might be given a series of exercises designed to help you slowly recover. Physical therapy might help you keep the use of the muscles in your neck following a whiplash injury, while helping to protect you from more problems.
Emotional treatment might also be in order, since you might begin to feel frustrated with the situation and your recovery time. A personal injury attorney can help you make sure that you receive insurance help paying for your whiplash treatment, so that you don’t end up with financial strains on top of the physical difficulties that come with an injury.