How Whiplash Can Affect You Long After an Accident

Posted on May 21st, 2018
By Taos Injury Lawyers

long-term effects of whiplash

A person is in a car accident may experience whiplash, which is a common injury that occurs when the neck is jolted forward and backward. While whiplash can be a minor injury, whiplash can cause chronic pain or other symptoms that continues to affect accident victims long after an accident.

How Whiplash Happens

The abrupt impact of a collision can cause the neck to hyperextend backward and then forward beyond its normal range of motion. The jolt may lead to damage of soft tissues such as tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

This is especially common if you are sitting in a vehicle that is not moving, such as at a red light or stuck in traffic, when another vehicle suddenly hits the stationary car from behind.

Symptoms of Whiplash

In most cases, symptoms appear within 24 hours after an injury, but it sometimes takes longer. You may not suffer symptoms immediately after an accident, so if you have been jolted by another vehicle or in any other type of accident, you should be evaluated by a doctor.

Symptoms that may indicate whiplash include:

  • Neck pain, which could be mild or severe and may worsen with movement
  • Neck stiffness
  • Shoulder stiffness or pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness in arm

Diagnosing Whiplash

After an accident, it’s important to be examined for injury even if there are no immediate symptoms. Any sign of neck pain or other whiplash injuries should definitely be checked out promptly and thoroughly by a doctor to rule out other injuries such as fractures. The doctor may order X-rays to confirm there are no dislocations or fractures, and to rule out degenerative diseases, like arthritis.

To assess inflammation or damage to the soft tissues, other imaging tests will be ordered such as MRI or CT scan. These tests are able to detect soft tissue injuries that X-rays don’t show.

Treatment of Whiplash

Whiplash can be mild or severe. A mild case of whiplash can be treated with over-the-counter pain medicine, range of motion exercises, and physical therapy, along with alternating ice and heat treatments. A physical therapist may teach the patient exercises to help restore normal movement and improve posture.

Cervical collars to immobilize the neck were used at one time in the treatment of whiplash, but immobilizing the neck may actually delay the healing process. Nonetheless, collars may be used for a few hours at a time, especially if the patient has difficulty sleeping.

Chronic Whiplash Associated Disorder

When an accident is severe, the damage to the neck may continue on a long-term basis, sometimes for years after an accident. This could lead to disability and reduced quality of life, which is known as whiplash associated disorder. Unfortunately, severe damage to the neck may not be apparent right away.

A variety of treatments are used to treat whiplash associated disorder, such as physical therapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic care. Prescription painkillers or muscle relaxants may also be prescribed for severe pain. Some people struggle with depression after suffering this type of injury.

Get Legal Advice as Soon as Possible

Many people claim to be more injured than they are after a car accident, which can make courts skeptical of claims regarding whiplash. If you have a neck injury after a car accident, see a doctor immediately to document your injury. Then, get legal advice as soon as possible.

Contact Taos Injury Lawyers using the form on this page. One of our lawyers will get back to you very soon to discuss your injury and help you determine if you should file a claim.

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