Whiplash is one of the most frequent injuries of the head and neck region that adults sustain each year. Most victims who are diagnosed with it, are not sure what it is. Whiplash is the medical term for what occurs when the head is suddenly thrust forward and backward in a forceful manner. It can also be classified as a neck sprain and neck strain injury. Symptoms range from mild to serious. But one common factor of similar car accident related injuries is that the symptoms don’t show up right away.
What Causes Whiplash?
The most common cause for whiplash is when the victim is involved in a rear-end collision. The front seat head and neck rests of vehicles were added as preventative measures to keep your head safe in a traumatic event. As the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains, whiplash is actually a soft tissue injury to the neck. The sudden, rapid motion of the head moving back and forth is what causes harm. Sensitive tissue aligning the inside the neck can easily sustain damage. The neck contains vertebrae, discs, intervertebral joints, the roots of major nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons and soft tissues. In any traumatic auto accident, your head and neck are at risk of long-term damage. It is vital to consult with an attorney, so you don’t mistakenly undervalue your medical claims.
How Do You Know You Have Whiplash?
Unlike with an ankle sprain or surface wound, the symptoms of whiplash often don’t show up immediately. As the esteemed Mayo Clinic points out, symptoms may include any or all of the following:
- Tenderness or stiffness in the neck
- Neck pain that gets worse when you move your neck
- Restriction in motion of the head and neck
- Tingling or numbness in arms
- Pain, tingling or numbness in upper back, arms or neck
- Ears ringing
- Blurry vision
- Memory and concentration problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in mood (irritability or depression)
Some of these symptoms can cause severe impacts to your daily life.
How Is Whiplash Diagnosed?
During an exam the doctor will need to physically check your head, neck and arms for pain or swelling. It may be followed by a mobility assessment to measure:
- How much you can move your neck and shoulders
- The state of your reflexes
- If you feel a sensation in your limbs
- Degrees of motion that bring on pain
- Tenderness of the neck, back or shoulders
One thing it is very important to be aware of is that whiplash does not show up on typical medical tests such as X-ray or MRI imaging tests, as the Cleveland Clinic explains. The reason is because the internal structures damaged by whiplash are so small they don’t appear on test results. So the only way that whiplash can be accurately diagnosed is by ruling out other possible causes and making a diagnosis based on symptoms. Getting injured due to the negligence of someone else in a rear-end accident is a major risk factor for whiplash.