What is Whiplash from a Car Accident?

Even minor vehicle crashes can be horrific experiences for everyone involved. Beyond the property damage and emotional trauma, physical injuries can take a serious toll on victims. A whiplash neck sprain is a common injury associated with car accidents.

Statistically, most cases of whiplash stem from rear-end collisions at speeds of less than 15 miles per hour. Whiplash occurs when the head is quickly jolted forwards and backwards (or vice versa), in a sudden whip-like movement, stretching ligaments and muscles abruptly. When muscles and ligaments are hyperextended, or forcibly thrust beyond their normal range of motion, this injury can result in long-term pain, reduced mobility and other complications.

Whiplash after a car crash

According to the Spine Research Institute of San Diego, an estimated 3 million whiplash injuries occur every year in the U.S.  Some 20 percent of people involved in rear-end auto accidents develop symptoms of whiplash neck strain – generally within the first few days, reports the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

When the neck is unexpectedly jerked back and forth beyond its normal limits in a collision, the cervical vertebra and supporting tissues flex and then extend causing localized damage to the neck and upper back. In more serious cases of whiplash injury, ligaments are torn and can bleed. In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, some victims may notice minor symptoms like a stiff neck, which is usually indicative of whiplash. For this reason, it’s imperative to visit your nearest clinic or hospital for a thorough medical evaluation.

There are no definitive tests used to diagnose whiplash after a car accident. Unlike broken bones, which can be easily detected by X-rays, soft tissue injuries can be harder to assess and evaluate. In some situations, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds can point to ligament and muscle damage, but doctors largely rely on patient history and ongoing symptoms.

Symptoms of whiplash

Whiplash neck strain symptoms normally appear within hours of a motor vehicle accident. However, they can also slowly manifest over a period of days.  Be alert for the following signs:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Pain in the neck and upper back
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Inability to rotate neck left or right
  • Numbness or tingling in the shoulders or arms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Constant fatigue

The prognosis for most whiplash injuries is good, as long as patients adhere to treatment protocols, which may include muscle relaxants, physiotherapy, chiropractic adjustments, traction, heat, and pain killers.

In some cases, whiplash injuries do not heal properly, leaving victims with headaches and lingering pain for many months or years following the accident. These complications may be traced back to permanent damage to ligaments, nerves or discs.

Louisiana car accident attorney

At the Lafayette law offices of Bart Bernard, we believe that whiplash injury victims should be focused on their recovery, not on filing a claim for damages. Amid all the stresses and life complications that follow a collision, you want an experienced legal advocate who can truly fight for the compensation you deserve. As your trusted Lafayette car accident lawyer, Bart Bernard will work diligently to achieve the most favorable outcome possible, recovering compensation for all medical bills, loss of wages, lost future earnings and pain and suffering. Even if your accident was caused by an uninsured motorist, Bart Bernard has the resources and skill to get a fair settlement.

To schedule a free, no-obligation case review, call us today.

Additional Whiplash Resources

  1. HealthLine, Whiplash http://www.healthline.com/health/whiplash
  2. PatientInfo, Whiplash Neck Sprain http://patient.info/health/whiplash-neck-sprain
  3. SpineResearch of San Diego, Whiplash http://www.srisd.com/consumer_site/
  4. FulkChiropractic, 5 Early Warning Signs of a Whiplash Injury http://www.fulkchiropractic.com/whiplash-injury-auto-accident/



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