How whiplash occurs
Whiplash occurs when the spine experiences a sudden change in its normal curvature. The rapid backward and forward movement can damage the joints in the neck and overstretch its muscles and tendons.
In more severe accidents, whiplash may result in bone fractures and muscle tears. Because the neck is full of nerves, there's also the chance that they may be pinched between two or more bones, causing pain to radiate to other parts of the body.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Due to the complexity of our necks, whiplash can be experienced differently between people in similar accidents. For some, pain and symptoms may be immediate. Others may not realize they are injured until weeks later.
This makes it especially important to document a rear-end accident thoroughly, even if it appears minor. This includes filing a police report. This will ensure that your attorney has an accurate crash report to determine where negligence occurred and how it can be used to support your claim.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Tightness and spasms in the neck, back and shoulders
- Dizziness (also a symptom of a concussion)
- Pain when moving neck and/or head
- Difficulty swallowing, chewing and hoarseness when speaking may be a symptom of damage to the esophagus and larynx.
- Burning, tingling and other abnormal sensations
- Upper back pain
Treatment and prevention
You should be examined by a health professional as soon as possible after being the victim of a rear-end accident, even if you only feel mild pain. X-rays can rule out any bone fractures, while a CT scan or MRI can determine if you have a herniated disc or significant ligament injury.
Fortunately, most cases of whiplash result in a full recovery. Treatment options include:
- Remaining as active as possible.
- Temporary use of a soft cervical collar (brace) to immobilize the neck, if necessary.
- Medications to reduce pain, swelling and muscle spasms.
- Physical therapy
Wearing a seatbelt can help reduce your chances of experiencing whiplash. In addition, don't position your headrest too low and avoid driving in an overly reclined position.
If you were injured in a rear-end accident in Ohio or western Pennsylvania and now suffer from whiplash, contact us for a free case evaluation. One of our attorneys can go over your options and answer your questions. Or simply call us at (866) 439-2238.