Whiplash injuries are most often sustained in rear-end collisions, although they can also happen in side-impact crashes, or even sports accidents. A common myth is that accident victims who complain of neck pain are just malingering, trying to dip into the deep pockets of insurance companies to get money they don’t deserve. In fact, insurance companies themselves often try to downplay the seriousness of claimants’ whiplash injuries in order to maintain their own profitability.
You don’t have to be in a high-speed collision to sustain serious and extremely painful injuries. In fact, a vehicle’s occupants can be hurt even if the vehicle itself emerges from the collision undamaged. One of the most common injuries in low-speed impacts is whiplash, a term used to describe a range of neck injuries caused by sudden distortions of the neck. It occurs when the neck is pushed forward then “whipped” quickly backward (or vice versa).
If you have been in an Indiana car accident, you may need the experience and determination of the Indianapolis whiplash lawyers of McNeely Stephenson in order to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Use our online contact form or call us at 1-855-206-2555 for a free consultation about your accident.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
Typically, whiplash causes pain and spasms in the neck muscles. But there are many other symptoms which could be related to whiplash, including the following:
- Numbness in the arms, hands or legs
- Frequent or persistent headaches
- Back pain
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Inability to sleep
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Problems with balance
The consequences of a whiplash injury may also include a variety of related problems, such as:
- Joint dysfunction, in which a joint in the spine or a limb loses its normal resiliency and results in a restricted range of movement
- Herniated discs between the vertebrae, causing neurological symptoms and sharp, shooting pains
- Damage to the nervous system, causing uncoordination
- Cognitive and higher center dysfunction.
How serious is whiplash?
Whiplash injuries range from minor to catastrophic. Minor whiplash injuries are uncomfortable but cause little disruption to a person’s daily activities. They usually resolve in a matter of hours or months and can be addressed with minor physical therapy or medications.
Moderate whiplash injuries are those injuries causing symptoms which last for more than a year and up to two years after the accident. Usually the victim’s activities are affected to some degree, including loss of time at work, inability to participate in certain family activities, and the financial burden of increased medical bills.
Severe or catastrophic whiplash injuries are those whose consequences extend beyond two full years. They may be classified as permanent injuries from which total recovery will never occur. Even though whiplash injuries are rarely fatal, they can nevertheless be catastrophic for the injured individual and for his or her family. Severe whiplash can cause permanent paralysis which requires ongoing medical attention and in-home assistance, results in loss of employment and irrevocably affects the family dynamics.
How is whiplash diagnosed?
Sometimes whiplash injuries are immediately apparent and the vehicle occupant feels neck pain even before they get out of the wrecked car. For many accident victims, however, the symptoms don’t develop until days or weeks later, when they suddenly start to experience numbness in their feet or legs or find that their headache just won’t go away.
Because of this, it is imperative that anyone involved in a collision – even one at relatively low speed that doesn’t seriously damage the vehicle – should seek medical evaluation. The fact that your car is drivable doesn’t mean that you weren’t hurt; there is often damage that isn’t obvious to a layperson. Only a medical professional knows what to look for and can advise you of your need for therapy, and you will need this evaluation in order to make an informed claim against the negligent party’s insurance company.
As a soft-tissue injury, whiplash cannot be seen on an X-ray, although X-rays may be ordered if the doctor suspects a fracture or dislocation of the cervical spine. A CT scan and/or MRI may be done to produce detailed images of the organs and soft tissue structures of the body.
How is whiplash treated?
Whiplash treatment typically begins with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice applied to the painful neck muscles. If the patient’s pain persists, the doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants and/or prescription painkillers. The neck may be immobilized by use of a cervical collar. In many cases, physical therapy is recommended. Acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment and electric nerve stimulation may provide relief.