According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash can cause chronic pain in some cases. Also known as a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury (CAD), whiplash is very common in auto accidents. Depending on how powerful the crash was, a whiplash injury can even lead to permanent disability that will require near-constant treatment for both pain and mobility issues.
Even a minor whiplash injury can lead to serious bodily harm if left untreated for long enough. It is best to seek medical care immediately after a car accident to ensure no underlying conditions may impede your recovery.
How does Whiplash Occur?
Sometimes these injuries may take days, weeks, or even months to appear. When dealing with an area as sensitive as the head and neck, there is no time to waste. Whiplash occurs when a great outside force acts upon your body. It is most commonly associated with auto accidents, although sports injuries, roller coasters, train crashes, and other sudden stops can have the same effect.
When you are in a car or other vehicle that stops suddenly, your body doesn’t immediately stop moving. Your head continues to move forward, but then the seatbelt holds you back, causing your neck to snap like a whip, potentially causing serious injuries.
Sometimes this jolt is repeated several times before the car comes to a complete stop. The neck and head violently lunge forward and backward very quickly, causing the head, neck, and shoulders to go significantly beyond their normal range of motion and resulting in very painful and potentially lifelong injuries.
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The Symptoms of Whiplash
Symptoms of whiplash can include chronic pain, limited mobility, and hearing, vision, and memory issues, among other conditions. A whiplash injury will primarily affect your upper body, including your head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Especially if you have fastened your seatbelt to secure your body—which is always recommended—your head will be unnaturally thrown about by the ensuing force.
Some of the resulting symptoms include:
- Pain in the shoulders or neck
- Stiffness of the neck and difficulty moving the head
- Memory problems, which are also a sign of a possible brain injury
- Not being able to sleep, experiencing restlessness, or having a disrupted sleep cycle
- Blurry vision or difficulty focusing your eyes
- Headaches or migraines
- Feelings of dizziness or vertigo
When Do Whiplash Symptoms Appear?
Typically, these symptoms will appear in less than a day, but everyone’s body is different. If it is a deep muscle bruise, for example, it may appear on a different timeframe than an injury to ligaments and nerves in your neck and shoulder. The severity of the condition will really be the deciding factor in how long it will affect you.
How Long Do Whiplash Symptoms Last?
If it is a minor case of whiplash, your body may naturally heal itself in short order. This could mean you just need to take it easy and manage your pain for a few days or a week. More serious injuries could take weeks or months to heal.
In some cases, you may experience ongoing pain despite physical therapy and other treatment. This could prevent you from working or enjoying previous activities and lead to lifelong mobility and pain management concerns.
Permanent or Long-Lasting Whiplash Effects
Neck injuries like whiplash can cause ongoing health concerns following a motor vehicle collision. Long-term symptoms may include:
- Lifelong stiffness
- Chronic pain
- Tingling or weakness in the arms
- Back pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can result after car accidents, according to Medical News Today
- Other psychological effects related to chronic injuries and reduced quality of life
Whiplash Injuries Should Always Be Taken Seriously
The more severe the impact that occurred on the neck’s soft tissues, the longer the injuries may linger. Even if you do not think the crash caused any injuries, the motion of jerking your head and neck back and forth can cause small injuries in your body’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and other tissues.
Mood changes like irritability have also been reported with these injuries, even though the body seems to remain virtually unharmed. When dealing with an injury that takes place anywhere near the brain, the injuries can be catastrophic, forever altering who you are and your overall impulse controls. As the upper body contains some of the most vital elements of human survival, you should take a whiplash injury seriously.
Even if you were lucky enough to escape without any injuries to the head or neck, a serious back injury—like a slipped or herniated disk—can haunt you forever, potentially resulting in surgery and mobility issues down the line. It is important to seek immediate medical care after being involved in an accident, even if it is simply precautionary.
Getting a Personal Injury Attorney in Your Corner
Once you’ve been checked out by a medical professional, a personal injury or auto accident attorney can help you understand your legal options for seeking and recovering compensation for your medical care, future care needs, lost wages, and more.
A car accident lawyer will fight for your right to compensation when you have suffered injuries in an auto accident. Even if you are not sure who was at fault, you can speak with an attorney for free. They may be able to manage your insurance claim or civil lawsuit and get your life back on track.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
While winning an insurance payout or jury award will not stop your chronic pain or other lasting whiplash symptoms, it will allow you to:
- Focus on your therapy and treatment instead of financial stresses
- Prevent you from feeling pressured to return to work before you are ready
- Allow you to get justice by holding the at-fault driver responsible
- Pay for specialist care and therapy as needed
- Help you pay for prescription pain management, if necessary
- Compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced
Whiplash is a notoriously difficult injury to prove. It primarily affects only soft tissues, so there is no way to prove it with an x-ray like you might a broken leg. Instead, it depends greatly on the injured person reporting their pain levels, limited range of motion, and other symptoms. However, attorneys who often handle these cases know what it takes to prove them and document these injuries.
If you pursue a case against the driver who caused your collision and injuries, your attorney will help you document your whiplash, related expenses and losses, and the pain and suffering you experience as a result. Most work is based on contingency fees, never asking your family to pay for any of their work upfront. Instead, they get paid from the settlement or verdict they win on your behalf.
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Let an Attorney from Morris Bart, LLC Review Your Options Today
At the Morris Bart law firm, we regularly represent car accident victims and those who suffered whiplash in personal injury accidents. We know the medical evidence necessary to prove these injuries and what it takes to win these cases. We have 15 locations and serve Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. We are a contingency-fee firm and provide free initial case reviews.
To find out more about how we may be able to help you get compensated for any permanent damage from whiplash after a Gulf South car accident, call today for your free consultation.
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