Serious injuries can result from even minor accidents, with symptoms that can take days or even weeks to fully appear. This is particularly true with whiplash, one of the most common types of accidental injuries, and while the harm done may not be immediately apparent, the effects could impact your health and well-being, both now and in the years to come. The following provides important information you need to be aware of about whiplash injuries, how they commonly occur, and the actions you as a victim can take to ensure your recovery.
Common Causes Of Whiplash
Whiplash is the name commonly used to describe a neck sprain or strain, which occurs as the result of a person’s head moving back and forth suddenly and with force. According to Healthline, this type of movement causes damage to the muscles and other soft tissues in the neck, and while whiplash is often considered to be a fairly minor injury, it can result in long term pain and discomfort, while limiting range of motion.
Whiplash often occurs as the result of a car accident, in particular those involving rear end collisions. The latest statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) indicate that rear end collisions are the most common type of motor vehicle accident, injuring as many as 1.7 million people each year. Other types of accidents that can result in whiplash include the following:
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Bicycle and pedestrian accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Recreational or sports related accidents;
- Accidents involving being struck by or against an object.
When you suffer any type of accidental injury, regardless of how minor it may appear, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, and to follow all your doctor’s instructions. Failing to promptly and adequately address whiplash injuries can have severe and potentially permanent impacts on your health.
Symptoms of A Whiplash Injury
In the event of an accident, the Mayo Clinic advises victims to be alert for the symptoms of whiplash, which could take anywhere from 24 hours to several days to appear. In addition to neck pain, stiffness, and limited movement of the neck muscles, symptoms of a whiplash injury include the following:
- Headaches, particularly at the base of the skull;
- Pain that radiates through your shoulders, upper arms, and torso;
- Tingling and numbness in the arms or hands;
- Dizziness and problems maintaining balance;
- Blurred vision;
- Excessive fatigue or muscle weakness.
Other, less common symptoms you may experience after your accident as the result of a whiplash injury include problems with memory and concentration, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders, such as depression or increased irritability.
It is imperative to get medical attention right away when you suffer this type of injury, to allow your doctor to rule out conditions such as bone fractures, damaged discs or vertebrae, and muscle tears.
Treatments and Potential Complications of Whiplash
In diagnosing your condition, the Mayo Clinic advises that your doctor will test the range of motion in your neck, arms, and shoulders, while also assessing strength, sensation, and your reflexes in these areas. In addition, your doctor may order one or all of the following tests:
- X-rays of the neck from multiple angles, to rule out fractures and dislocations;
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan, which can reveal bone damage;
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can detect soft tissue injuries and damage to the spinal cord and disks.
Once your doctor has assessed your condition, a course of treatment will be prescribed. This often includes a required period of rest to allow the muscles and tendons to heal, in addition to the use of both prescribed and over-the-counter pain medications and muscle relaxers. Exercise and physical therapy is likely to play an important role in your recovery, to build up weakened muscles and restore range of motion. In the case of severe whiplash injuries, you may require the use of a soft foam cervical collar, to immobilize the affected area and allow time for it to heal.
With any kind of soft tissue injury, there is always the risk of reinjury, and complications of whiplash injuries could result in chronic pain in the neck, shoulder, and arms, as well as in permanent impairments. Disabilities resulting from whiplash could make it difficult to continue working in your job or career field, while making it difficult to engage in hobbies and social activities you once enjoyed.
What To Do If You Suffer Whiplash As The Result of An Accident
Accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly, and it is important to know what to do if you are injured:
For Motor Vehicle, Bicycle, Or Pedestrian Accidents
Report the accident immediately to local law enforcement and get medical attention for your injuries. All motorists involved are required to submit their personal contact information, as well as the driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance policy numbers. An accident report will be taken, which should include the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as any witnesses at the scene.
For Recreational Or Sports-Related Accidents And Those Involving Slips, Falls, Or Being Struck By Or Against An Object
Report the accident to the property supervisor or to security personnel at the scene and get medical attention right away. An incident report is taken, again making note of the date, time, place, and circumstances under which the accident occurred, and anyone at the scene who may have witnessed what happened.
Our Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you or someone you care about has suffered whiplash injuries as the result of an accident, contact the Khan Law Firm, PLLC today. Our experienced Seattle accidental injury attorneys can advise you on the best course of action for getting compensation for your injuries, either through an insurance company claim or by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Whiplash injuries can have a major impact on your health as well as your financial security, and you need experienced legal representation to ensure your rights and interests are protected.