One of the first complaints a person shares after surviving a rear-end collision is the pain caused by a whiplash injury. This generally occurs after the neck is suddenly hyperextended forward and then backwards. Some doctors refer to this motion as an “acceleration-deceleration” energy transfer to the neck region. Accident survivors also frequently develop serious back pain after enduring rear-end crashes.
Impact of Whiplash Injuries
The United States currently spends an estimated $2.7 billion a year to help people recover from their whiplash injuries. Although many survivors heal within four to six weeks, about 25 percent of whiplash patients suffer chronic neck (and lower back) pain that may remain for the rest of their lives.
Far too often, insurance company adjusters and their lawyers wrongfully assume that all these claims are false or exaggerated. While a small percentage of people may exaggerate their injuries, X-rays and MRIs often provide clear evidence of the structural damage suffered during these events. Nevertheless, some plaintiffs’ whiplash complaints are difficult to document since they involve soft-tissue damages that aren’t accompanied by visible spinal cord injuries.
Here’s a brief look at the symptoms people often exhibit after surviving a whiplash car accident. This information is followed by a quick review of different diagnostic tools and common treatment choices.
Frequent Complaints and Symptoms of Car Accident Neck Injuries
The Mayo Clinic website shares the following whiplash symptoms.
- Stiffness and pain in the neck region
- Cervical area pain that’s often made far worse when the injured person is asked to move his head or neck into different positions
- Headaches can develop – and may shoot upwards from the base of the skull
- The injured person may lose all range of motion in the neck area
- There may be extreme tenderness and pain in the neck and shoulder areas
- Dizziness and fatigue may be experienced
- Injured parties may report numbness or tingling in their arms
Depending upon the severity of the whiplash injuries and other direct blows to the head and other parts of the body, patients may also exhibit or report the following additional symptoms.
- Memory losses
- Blurry or double vision
- Sleep difficulties
- Anxiety or irritability
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Focus problems or difficulties in concentrating
Tests and Exams Often Used to Diagnose Whiplash and Related Injuries
Your examining physician will often first ask you to try and move your neck, head, and arms in various directions to assess your pain level and any range of motion losses. Your neck, shoulders and back area will also be examined — and your general reflexes will be tested.
If your injuries appear serious, your doctor will order neck X-rays shot at different angles. To obtain further helpful images, a CT (computerized tomography) scan may be ordered or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test may be run. MRIs can prove very useful in spotting soft tissue damages and injuries to the spinal cord and disks.
Frequently Recommended Approaches to Treatment
If a doctor carefully examines you and determines that your whiplash injuries are relatively minor, you may respond favorably to one or more of the following, simple treatments.
- Application of ice or heat to your neck area. This can usually be done safely for about 15 minutes, five or six times a day;
- Lying down and resting often works wonders;
- Using OTC (over-the-counter) pain drugs like ibuprofen and Advil;
- If pain is more severe, you can request a prescription painkiller from your doctor. If you take this route, always remember to only use these drugs for a short time since they can easily become addictive;
- Take muscle relaxants. Once you can alleviate most of your pain and stiffness, you’ll often start sleeping better;
- Obtain pain injections. Always keep in mind that these may only last for a few days or weeks, depending on the drug and its dosage. Keep in mind that these drugs are very potent and may make it very hard for you to work or even drive a car safely.
Of course, if your head or neck injuries are severe, your doctor may suggest some type of surgery. Always obtain a second opinion concerning any suggested surgery since these types of procedures can prove very risky. Follow-up physical therapy and rehabilitation treatments may then help you heal even faster.
Once your doctor says its safe, consider doing regular Yoga stretches to minimize your pain.
Contact A NYC Whiplash Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an automobile accident and have any type of injury, it is important that you contact a NYC car accident attorney as soon as possible. At Frekhtman & Associates we provide a free consultation to all our clients. Give us a call so that we can help you understand your rights. The earlier in the process we start to help, the larger the compensation possible.