What Our Personal Injury Attorney Says About Whiplash
Whiplash is the common term used for a neck injury that occurs when a person’s head is suddenly jerked backward and then forward with great force. It usually happens to the occupants of a car that is rear-ended by another car. The victim’s head forcibly snaps backward while his or her body gets thrown forward. The head then snaps forward instantly in a recoil motion. This backward and forward motion can damage the muscles and ligaments that support the neck, head, and jaws.
Activities That Cause Whiplash
Whiplash is not caused only by fender benders. It can also be caused by a number of other activities, such as physical assault (being punched in the jaws and neck), collision while playing contact sports, horse riding accidents, cycling accidents, blow to the head with a heavy object, and falls. Women are more vulnerable to whiplash than men since their neck muscles are smaller. If you have suffered whiplash from any of these activities, talk to a personal injury attorney immediately to find out how you can seek compensation.
Injuries May Not Be Immediately Apparent
While whiplash victims usually feel some neck and shoulder pain immediately after the accident, they may not feel the full symptoms until a few hours or even a few days have passed because he or she will still be high on adrenaline, which can work as a painkiller. To complicate matters, the true extent of damages done to the neck and jaws are often not immediately apparent to the victim and even to the doctor, because injuries to soft tissues are not visible on x-rays.
In many whiplash cases, jaw joints along with the muscles that support the jaws are also damaged, causing them to go into spasms, which can be extremely painful. Since the damages done to the muscles are hard to detect, the physician looks for clues that include pain in and around the jaw joints, clicking or popping of the jaw joints, locking or limited opening of the mouth, and difficulty bringing the teeth together.
Symptoms of Whiplash
When the symptoms eventually appear, they can be very painful and persistent. They may include some or all of the following:
- Severe neck pain accompanied by stiffness and reduced range of motion
- Severe jaw pain accompanied by reduced range of motion
- Shoulder pain
- Vertigo or ringing in the ears
- Numbness of the face and head
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in the arms all the way down to the fingers
- Blurred vision and pain behind the eyes
Diagnosis of Whiplash
Your doctor will ask you questions about your injury, such as how it occurred, exactly where you feel the pain, and whether the pain is sharp, shooting, or dull. Physical examinations may include asking you to move your neck to check the range of motion and probing with the hand to find areas of tenderness. The doctor may also order an X-ray to see if the pain is connected to other types of injuries and diseases. He may also order CT scan, MRI scan, and other tests to assess damages and inflammations of the soft tissues of the muscles of the neck and jaws, the nerves, and the spinal cord.
Complications Associated with Whiplash
In rare cases, victims may experience long-term complications that include chronic pain in the joints and headaches for many years.
Treatment of Whiplash
While whiplash injuries can be very painful and keep you awake at night, the treatments are often simple. You can treat mild to moderate cases of whiplash with over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and aspirin. You may even use ice to treat mild whiplashes. If you have suffered a more serious form of whiplash, you may require prescription painkillers (to ease the pain) and muscle relaxants (to reduce muscle spasms).
Treatment of severe whiplash may also include physical therapy sessions of a few weeks to a few months in addition to medication. Your doctor may also recommend practicing good posture and relaxation techniques to hasten the recovery process. Never ignore the hidden symptoms of whiplash; they can have dangerous consequences. While seeking medical attention, don’t forget to call a reputable personal injury attorney to file a claim.