A whiplash injury results when the soft tissues in your neck suffer an injury from a sudden trauma. Whiplash is a common injury in automobile accidents, especially rear-end collisions. A whiplash injury is sometimes described as neck pain or neck strain. Additionally, your intervertebral joints, spinal discs, ligaments or cervical muscles may be affected if you sustain a serious whiplash injury.
Symptoms of Whiplash
Generally, you will start to experience pain in your neck shortly after a serious auto accident or a few days later.
Common symptoms of whiplash include:
- stiffness in the neck;
- discomfort when swallowing and chewing;
- headache and dizziness;
- shoulder pain; and
- back pain.
Furthermore, whiplash can result in injuries to the muscles and ligaments in your neck and cause an unusual burning sensation. Whiplash symptoms usually last for about a month.
If you have suffered a whiplash injury as a result of a serious auto accident, you may require long-term medical care. Filing a personal injury claim can help you recover the whiplash compensation you need to pay for your:
- immediate and long-term medical expenses;
- lost wages; and
- pain and suffering.
Although whiplash primarily causes damage to the soft tissues in your neck, a doctor can perform X-rays of your spine to rule out any further injury. In fact, initial medical documentation may be useful, especially if your whiplash symptoms are delayed.
Treatment for Whiplash
If you’ve experienced serious neck pain after a car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately because you may have sustained a whiplash injury. Typically, a soft cervical collar worn for 2-3 weeks is used to treat whiplash.
Additional treatments for whiplash include:
- heat therapy or physical therapy;
- pain medications;
- local anesthetic injections;
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
- muscle relaxants; and
- range-of-motion exercises.
If you continue to experience whiplash symptoms after treatment, your doctor may recommend that you wear a neck strap to avoid too much movement. This is called cervical traction.
You may need further diagnostic testing and X-rays if your symptoms persist or keep getting worse after 6-8 weeks. In such a scenario, surgery may be necessary.