Whiplash is one of the most frequently occurring types of injuries from which people who are involved in car accidents may suffer. The injury, which involves soft tissue damage to the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck, can result in debilitation lasting for weeks, months or even years, depending on its severity.
Since whiplash is not an externally visible injury and also because its symptoms may not show for hours or days, it is often poorly understood. The injury is a real one, however. Muscles and tendons may be stretched beyond their normal limits, resulting in tears and even herniated discs in the cervical region of the spine.
These injuries are most common in rear-end collisions. The sudden acceleration of the head propelled forward can be followed by a sharp deceleration as the head and neck extend too far back. Treatment of the injury may involve physical therapy as well as ongoing pain management. People may need to gradually increase their range of motion so they can return to optimal functioning again. Symptoms can include stiffness and pain in the neck, chronic headaches, pain radiating down into the chest and arms and even emotional and social effects due to the chronic pain.
It is important for a person who is injured in a car collision to see a doctor as soon as possible. Whiplash symptoms may develop even in victims who initially do not realize that they have been hurt, as the adrenaline and excitement of being involved in an accident may prevent noticing the injury at first. Seeking early treatment may help reduce the recovery time. A personal injury lawsuit may be warranted in a situation where the accident was caused by a negligent motorist.
Source: American Chiropractic Association, “Whiplash”, accessed on Feb. 9, 2015