When you seek medical attention after an accident, doctors typically examine you to determine if you have suffered any broken bones. If you have not experienced any broken bones, but you are still in pain, the doctor will then check your spine for any herniated disc.
If you are still in pain but have not suffered any broken bones or herniated disc, you have probably sustained a soft tissue injury. A soft tissue injury is a trauma that occurs to a muscle, ligament, tendon, or other connective tissue that is not bone.
Whiplash is one of the most common soft tissue injuries sustained during a car accident. While many whiplash injuries are not severe and heal in a matter of days or weeks, some injuries can persist and result in more serious complications.
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash is the word commonly used to describe an injury caused by a sudden and rapid over-stretching of the muscles tendons and ligaments of the neck. To better understand whiplash, we should first discuss what happens to the head and neck during a car crash.
Your neck and spine are made up of a series of small joints called vertebrae. Your spinal cord sits inside these vertebrae and, with the help of nerves, sends signals between your brain and body.
Muscles attached to your spine enable you to move, and there is a disc between each vertebra that acts as a shock absorbing cushion with each movement. A network of blood vessels provides blood to your tissues to nourish them.
Whiplash can happen whenever a force is exerted on your body that is great enough to force your neck and head to move suddenly in one direction and then be whipped back in the other direction.
Because accidents usually happen all of a sudden, your body is typically relaxed, which allows even more force to be placed on your head and neck, straining the ligaments and muscles of the neck.
Although in the majority of case symptoms of whiplash injuries last only for a few days, sometimes it can develop into a more serious condition. It’s vital for you to seek medical attention right away, by going to the local hospital emergency room, an urgent care facility, or visiting an accident doctor or a clinic. If you live in a no-fault state, like New York, your medical and prescription drug bills for treating injuries related to an auto accident will be covered by NY no-fault insurance.
Common causes of whiplash include:
Slip and fall accidents
Sports-related injuries; and
Being shoved from behind
Symptoms of Whiplash
Whiplash symptoms can be crippling and painful and prevent you from working and doing the things you enjoy. Symptoms of whiplash typically emerge within 24 hours of the accident. However, the emergence of symptoms can be delayed and may not be felt for days.
In some instances, symptoms may go away, only to return a few days later. Symptoms often include a stiff neck and muscle soreness in the chest, shoulders, and arms.
Many symptoms subside after a few days or weeks with the use of over-the-counter pain medication and muscle therapy. However, if the pain is not relieved, even by prescription medication and physical therapy, this may be an indication of a more severe condition.
Signs of a more serious whiplash condition include:
Pain that radiates down the arm
Tingling in your limbs
Severe neck pain
Inability to turn your head
Whiplash can be a very serious condition and early detection is the best prevention for future pain. If you were injured in an auto accident and sustained a whiplash injury, you may be entitled to compensation to cover the cost of medical treatment and more.