Whiplash is a term that describes injury to the neck that occurs as a result of a motor vehicle or car accident. The most common types of car accidents are rear impact, and most typically, the occupant in the vehicle that gets “rear-ended” (hit from behind) is at the greatest risk of injury, including whiplash.
How Whiplash Happens
A rear impact car accident causes movement of the structures within the neck changing the normal curve of the upper back and neck. The sudden backward movement (extension) and forward movement (flexion) can cause the joints of the neck to be injured and can also cause the muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back to be over-stretched. The neck is particularly vulnerable to this type of injury because of its ability to move in many directions.
How Whiplash is Diagnosed
Even if your neck pain is only mild, you should be examined by a health professional as soon as possible. X-rays may be done to rule out any bone fractures. A CT scan or MRI may also be done if there is concern you have a herniated disc or significant ligament injury. These tests are better able to identify soft tissue injuries than plain radiographs.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The primary symptom of whiplash is neck or upper back pain. The pain can start immediately or develop days, weeks, or sometimes even months later. Symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Some may only suffer minor discomfort while others experience one or more of the following:
- Tightness or spasms of the muscles the neck or upper back.
- Pain with movement of the neck, headache and dizziness (symptoms of a concussion).
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing and hoarseness (could indicate injury to the esophagus and larynx).
- Abnormal sensations such as burning or tingling.
- Shoulder pain.
- Upper back pain.
Severe whiplash can also include injury to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerve of the neck or upper back. Fortunately, with time, the vast majority of people who have had a whiplash injury fully recover.
If you were in an auto accident and feel that you have whiplash or any other injuries, contact The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir for guidance and representation to get the compensation that you deserve for your pain.