Each year, over 3 million people suffer whiplash injuries to their neck and back as a result of automobile accidents. It is estimated that about 50% of these injury victims will fully recover, while some 40% will suffer chronic pain and about 10% will be disabled.
One reason whiplash injuries are so prevalent is due to the rigid vehicle bumper systems on vehicles which are intended to reduce property damage in the event of a collision. However, in a car accident, this causes energy to be transferred from the vehicle to its occupants, often resulting in a forceful back-and-forth movement to a person’s neck or back. A whiplash injury results when your neck or back cracks like whip, causing flexion and extension of the spine, as well as to the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine. Most often they are caused by rear-end auto accidents.
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Whiplash injuries should be taken very seriously. Usually, you will not know the extent of your injuries until weeks or months after a car accident.
Strain and sprain injuries, which are often known as soft tissue injuries usually heal within a few months. Pain that lasts longer is frequently a result of more serious problems such as a bulging or herniated disc, nerve damage or other spinal injury.
The Wieand Law Firm has significant experience representing people who have suffered neck and back injuries in automobile accidents. To speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer about your case call us at 1(800) 481-5206 for a free legal consultation.
Symptoms of Whiplash
It is common to experience symptoms of whiplash the next day or even several days after an auto accident. These symptoms often include:
- Facet joint pain (pain in the left or center back of the neck)
- Radiating pain from disc injuries (such as herniated discs, protruding discs or bulging discs pressing on or pinching nerves in the spine)
- Muscle Strain
- Injury to spinal nerves or compression of nerves by a herniated disc
- Cervicogenic Headache
- Arm pain radiating into the neck and shoulders or arm heaviness
- Pain between your shoulder blades
- Low back pain radiating into the leg(s)
If you experience these symptoms you should consult with a medical professional who can make a diagnoses and provide a treatment plan for your injuries.
Diagnosis of Neck and Back Injuries
- X-rays are often the first diagnostic test run if your neck or back is injured in a car accident. They are useful for diagnosing broken bones, fractures and the alignment of your spine.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to diagnose soft tissue injuries and damage to discs in your spine. Since this test is more expensive it is often done after an x-ray.
- CT (computed tomography) scans use x-rays to create a diagnostic 3D image which is useful for identifying fractures.
- Electromyography (EMG) studies record the electrical activity of muscles in order to detect abnormal muscle activity that often occurs when there is nerve damage. It can help distinguish between nerve disorders and muscle conditions. They can also identify the level of nerve injury.
Treatment of Whiplash Injuries
Whiplash injuries are often treated with over-the-counter pain medication like Advil or Tylenol. More serious injuries may require prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms.
In addition to medication, your doctor may also prescribe a course of physical therapy to help aid in your recovery. This may include treatments such as ice or heat therapy, strength building exercises, ultrasound, tens treatment, stretching and massage. Your medical provider may also provide education as to proper postures and relaxation techniques which can contribute to a faster recovery.
Should I Call a Personal Injury Attorney?
Whiplash injuries vary in degree and severity. In many cases, you will not know the extent of your injuries immediately after an accident. For this reason, if you experience whiplash symptoms after a car accident you should contact a personal injury lawyer who can help protect your rights in the event your injuries turn out to be serious or permanent in nature.
To speak with an injury lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm call 1(800) 481-5206.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not offer medical or legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm is proud to serve clients injured in motor vehicle accidents throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.