Every year, between 2.4 million and 4.4 million people are injured in motor vehicle accidents, per 2015 statistics reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council. The range of injuries resulting from these accidents runs the gamut, but whiplash is one of the most commonly suffered. Chances are high that you are at heightened risk of a whiplash injury when involved in a car crash, truck accident, or other motor vehicle collision.
Whiplash is perhaps most well-known as a car accident-related injury. But most people don’t really know what this injury involves, or how serious it can be. When you are in an automobile involved in a collision, you typically experience an abrupt, lurching motion inside the vehicle. This movement jerks your body, jolting joints between ligaments, cervical muscles, vertebrae, and discs in your neck and the upper area of your spine. This soft-tissue injury damages ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Someone suffering from the painful condition of whiplash often notices neck strain or sprain, but may also experience any of the following symptoms as well:
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Upper back pain
- Lower back discomfort
- Shoulder pain
- Numbness/pain in the hand and/or arm
- Sleep issues
- Difficulty with concentration
- Memory problems
Whiplash Trauma Injuries
More than 90 percent of whiplash sufferers report neck pain. Though this is somewhat of a misnomer, as it generally radiates to adjoining parts of your body, into your head, shoulders, and between your shoulder blades. Disc injury and facet join pain are common causes of this neck pain. These injuries cause discomfort, stiffness, instability, and difficult and abnormal movement.
Headaches closely follow neck pain in prevalence for victims of whiplash, impacting more than 80 percent of those afflicted with this condition. This head pain is often a direct result of whiplash injuries to your cervical spine facet joints, and the supporting muscles and ligaments.
Low back pain is reported by more than 50 percent of those suffering from whiplash that results from rear-impact crashes. Side-impact crash-related whiplash victims see a rise in that rate to nearly 75 percent. This is caused largely by the compression your lower back experiences during the collision.
More severe injuries can also result, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), brain injury, and lasting chronic pain, weakness or limited movement. Early medical intervention is key in mitigating and minimizing severe damage.
After the Accident
Most commonly, you will experience much of the neck pain, strain, and headaches described above, immediately or soon after your car accident. You may make the mistake of minimizing your injury and presuming it will correct itself. This is a dangerous presumption. Failure to receive prompt medical treatment, such as chiropractic care and soft tissue rehabilitation can lead to more serious and long term injuries.
It’s also a mistake to turn to a car insurance adjuster to look out for your best interests, whether they work for your carrier or that of the other driver. Adjusters owe their allegiance to their insurance companies. Their goal is to settle your claim as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
A skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyer is far more suited to help you receive the care that you need, and the compensation you require for the best possible recovery. He will advise of your rights, direct you to medical professionals experienced in the treatment of whiplash, and work to obtain a fair and equitable settlement or award while you concentrate on your recovery.