Whiplash is a generic term used to describe injuries most often sustained in motor vehicle collisions. The most common whiplash occurs when one vehicle is stopped and another vehicle collides with its rear end. The person in the stopped vehicle is usually at highest risk of a whiplash injury.
How it Occurs
As a result of impact, a sudden and violent backward movement of the head and neck (called extension) occurs and then the victim is thrown forward (called flexion). This hyper-extension, hyperflexion action causes injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and discs in the neck. Whiplash can also occur from side to side movement if a vehicle was broadsided.
Whiplash symptoms can be sudden, but it’s not at all unusual for them to arise many hours after an impact. They can get worse over the next few days. The symptoms can include neck stiffness with loss of range of motion, headaches, pain between the shoulders, arm pain and/or hand pain, jaw pain, dizziness, and blurred vision.
In cases involving any indication of a neck injury, x-rays of the cervical spine (neck) are almost always taken. They’re often taken again about a week later for purposes of comparison. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often performed if something more serious than a cervical sprain/strain is suspected. The MRI is better suited than x-rays to detect neck injuries involving spinal disc displacement and/or herniation.
The usual and customary conservative course of treatment for a whiplash injury involves a course of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, and/or chiropractic, massage therapy or physical therapy. Recovery time depends on the extent of the whiplash injury. Average recovery time is between a month and six weeks, but some people suffering whiplash injuries take longer than six months to recover. Some never fully recover.
Surgery for Whiplash Injuries
When conservative treatment hasn’t resulted in improvement, surgery might be the best option. A herniated intervertebral disc between two vertebrae can cause persistent significant arm pain and weakness. This might call for removal of the disc and implantation of an artificial disc or spinal fusion at the affected level. If a narrowing of the spinal canal occurs, or a narrowing of the space where a nerve exits the spinal canal occurs, other procedures might be involved like partial removal of a disc or bone.
Damages sustained as a result of a whiplash injury can be claimed in a lawsuit. They can include bills for treatment, surgery and rehabilitation, lost earnings, future lost earnings, pain and suffering, and permanent disability. We have built strong cases against negligent drivers. Call us today or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.