Whiplash Injuries 101: The Basics

Were You Recently in a Car Accident and Suffered Whiplash Injuries? Call Us Today!

nullWhiplash 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
  • Headache
  • Neck pain that gets worse when you move your neck
  • Restriction in motion of the head and neck
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness in arms
  • Pain, tingling or numbness in upper back, arms or neck
  • Dizziness
  • 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.

What Kind of Treatment Do You Need for Whiplash?

Although whiplash injuries may not be diagnosed immediately, any related symptoms you notice shouldn’t be taken lightly. It may be common, but that does not mean it can’t turn into a serious or life-threatening injury. As the well-respected John Hopkins Medical Center explains, whiplash treatment is administered based on symptoms. At the mild end, rest and analgesics, ice and muscle relaxants may prove helpful. Severe symptoms of whiplash may require physical or occupational therapy, osteopathic manipulation or surgery.
The goals of treatment are:

  • Fast recovery, as whiplash symptoms can last weeks to months
  • Control pain surrounding your head, back and neck
  • Get you back on your feet with ease
  • Restore normal motion 

A car accident lawyer can help you assess the severity of your symptoms and prepare an appropriate claim for compensation. Far too many of these people never receive what they are entitled to for their medical injuries. Preparing a detailed case can lead to a higher success rate in court.

Why You Need a Car Wreck Lawyer for Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash shares many symptoms with similar medical conditions. For example, sometimes people who start getting headaches after being in a car accident think the headache is caused by stress when really it is caused by whiplash from the impact of the other vehicle. If you do not know the warning signs and symptoms of whiplash, you may not realize your headache, blurred vision or fatigue as a medical consequence of being hit by another motorist. When these types of symptoms impact your ability to do an effective job at work, care for your children and resume your daily life, it is time to take action.

Your attorney can help you evaluate the true cost of being involved in a motor vehicle accident which caused you to have whiplash. From doctor visits to medication needs, time lost from work or daily life, you may be entitled to far more compensation than your insurance provider or that of the other motorist is willing to admit. The most important fact to remember is that whiplash is typically caused when another motorist hits your vehicle from the rear.

In fault states, this can automatically mean that the collision is not your fault, a fact that the other driver’s attorney will be keen to downplay.