Whiplash is a common yet underestimated accident injury. Many clients report never seeing a doctor after a car accident because it was “just whiplash.”
Yet, whiplash causes immediate pain and places you at risk of long term conditions and increased vulnerability to injury. Here are answers to frequent questions about whiplash that show why you should take this condition seriously.
What Is Whiplash?
Also called neck strain, whiplash occurs when the neck or spine is jerked forward and then suddenly snaps back. While often associated with car accidents, it can also occur due to blunt force trauma from falls or being hit by moving objects. People have sustained whiplash riding roller coasters, falling off of horses or playing sports as well as from auto, truck, and motorcycle accidents.
This sudden force tears muscles and tendons in the neck. It is recognizable in x-rays by the natural curve of the cervical spine being straight. While pain is often immediate, it usually takes about 24 hours to fully manifest.
Is Whiplash Serious?
Whiplash can be a relatively minor injury for many people. But even mild whiplash can be incredibly painful. This can be managed with a cervical collar, pain medication, and medication to relieve muscle spasms associated with the tears in the muscle and tendons surrounding the spine. Doctors may also prescribe physical therapy or chiropractic adjustments to restore movement and manage pain.
More serious whiplash injuries occur when the impact is especially violent or the patient suffered from previous back or neck injuries. Like many spinal injuries, those sustained by the cervical spine are cumulative. If you underwent neck surgery two years ago, you are more likely to face severe whiplash symptoms. The same is true if you have a condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Whiplash will affect you more than it would someone without that medical history.
More Severe Symptoms
Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, headaches, jaw pain, muscle weakness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and visual disturbances. You may also experience pain in your upper back and shoulders as your body tries to make up for the shortcomings from your injury.
Serious cases may be accompanied with a concussion. Many times, a blow to the head simultaneously causes a head injury and whiplash. You may find your headaches are much worse and it is difficult to follow through with simple tasks. Head injuries are always serious and require immediate medical attention.
There is also “whiplash associated disorder” which arises from extreme and chronic cases of whiplash. In addition to experiencing severe pain and headaches, patients may also face depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep disturbance. This often occurs in violent collisions which also create mental symptoms. These can affect recovery time from physical injuries since it is difficult to keep up with treatment when you are experiencing even mild cognitive impairment.
If you experience mental symptoms or pain, tingling, dizziness, neck instability, and balance or coordination problems, do not avoid medical treatment. These show that the injury may be neurological as well as physical, so you will require more aggressive treatment options.
Are There Long-Term Effects?
Many patients are able to make a complete recovery with appropriate medical care. Those who remain disabled by whiplash one year later, often also suffered symptoms of whiplash associated disorder.
That is why whiplash should not be ignored as simply strained muscle pain. If you do not address it thoroughly, it is likely you will face pain, limited range of motion, and depression symptoms for the long term. Also depending on the seriousness of the impact, you could be vulnerable to future neck injuries.
What to Expect When Settling a Whiplash Case
Whiplash is common, and insurance companies remain skeptical about it, despite the prolific reporting of its severity in reputable medical journals and studies. If you end up on the more severe side of whiplash injuries, it is important that you attend your doctor appointments and comply with the treatment plans ordered by your medical professional. Adjusters are more likely to perceive that you are exaggerating your injuries if you do not make a good faith effort to heal.
If you develop whiplash associated disorder or sustained a head injury, those will likely be treated as injuries separate from the whiplash. Mental symptoms, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome require delicate handling and attention. The same is true with head injuries.
There is nothing small or minor with whiplash. At the very least, there is pain and annoyance that affects your quality of life but you may also be forced to miss work due to inability to perform job duties.
Keep your focus on recovery rather than answering constant insurance inquiries. Insurance companies in general try to delay settling claims to force you to accept a lower settlement offer. Contact The Cagle Law Firm today so we can start working on securing the best settlement possible for your whiplash injury.