Each year, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States suffer from whiplash. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an automobile insurer-funded organization, states that annual costs related to whiplash are about $8 billion.
Many automobile drivers suffer from whiplash without knowing it. Others can tell immediately that they likely have whiplash following an accident. If you were involved in an accident, and think you may have suffered whiplash, there are several elements to consider:
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when the neck hyperextends or hyperflexes.
- Hyperextension happens when the head and neck suddenly move forward or backward, causing the soft tissue in the neck to become injured.
- Hyperflexion occurs with the propulsion of the head in a forward and downward motion, which results in injury to the soft neck tissue, as well as possible vertebrae facture or irritation of spinal nerves.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Common symptoms of whiplash include, but are not limited to:
- Neck pain and neck stiffness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbance
- Decrease in range of motion
- Blurred vision
- Tingling, burning, or prickling in limbs
What Causes Whiplash?
Rear-end car collisions often cause acceleration/deceleration types of whiplash injuries. When hit from behind, a person’s head propels forward rapidly, which causes ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck to stretch beyond what is of normal range. If you come to a rapid stop, your head can be thrown violently. Tall people and women are most likely to be victims of these injuries.
It is important to note that whiplash can also occur in collisions that happen at relatively low speeds.
How Long After an Accident do you Experience Whiplash?
Whiplash is not always noticeable immediately. Because the soft neck tissue might take a while to show evidence of injury, anyone who has been in an accident where your head or neck was abruptly tossed should see a doctor right away. Serious injury could have already happened, yet may go unnoticed for some time.
How do You Treat Whiplash?
If you have been in any type of accident, you should see a doctor immediately. A specialist who can tell you how to treat a whiplash injury and what types of short-term and long-term remedies or procedures might be necessary. Here are some common short-term treatments, but we recommend seeing a doctor as soon as possible:
- Ice your neck to reduce pain and swelling as soon as you can after the injury. Do it for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days. Wrap the ice in a thin towel or cloth to prevent injury to the skin.
- Take painkillers or other drugs, if recommended by your doctor. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), will help with pain and swelling. However, these medicines can have side effects. Never use them regularly unless your doctor specifically says you should.
- Use a neck brace or collar to add support, if your doctor recommends it. However, they are not recommended for long-term use, because they can actually weaken the muscles in your neck.
How long will it take to Recover from Whiplash?
A doctor can tell you how long it may take to recover from your whiplash injury. Every whiplash case is different, so it is important to see a physician and take the physician’s advice seriously when it comes to actions taken after an accident and follow-up treatment. To best heal after whiplash, it is imperative that one carefully considers what lifestyle is best for improving health.
How do You Sleep when You have Whiplash?
Many whiplash sufferers have trouble sleeping because they cannot get comfortable. If you have suffered from whiplash, you should talk with your doctor about the best position for sleeping, and about what types of mattresses and pillows might be best for healing.
Can Whiplash Cause Back Pain?
Whiplash can absolutely cause years of chronic back pain. It may also cause back pain that leads to other kinds of pain, if – for instance – a person overcompensates for an injury by walking in an abnormal way. If this happens, then this can lead to pain in other parts of the body.
Drivers can try to avoid car crash-related whiplash injuries by positioning their head restraints properly and making sure they always wear a seatbelt – even if the law does not require it.
If you have been in an accident and have suffered from whiplash or any other injury, Patterson Law Group wants to hear your story. Please fill out the form on this page, and one of our attorneys will get in touch with you shortly.