Any time an individual experiences a sudden hyperextension in the neck, he or she may suffer from a whiplash injury. Even a low speed collision can lead to permanent soft tissue damage. Sometimes the symptoms of whiplash injuries take time to manifest and require ongoing treatment.
Named for the motion of a whip as it cracks in the air, whiplash injuries can arise anytime a person’s neck snaps back and forth in a traumatic hyperextension. An improperly placed headrest and seatbelt restraint can exacerbate the effects of a whiplash injury during an accident.
After a sudden stop or jolt that causes the whiplash movement, an individual may feel soreness, tightness, or no pain at all. Over time, however, affected vertebrae, disks, and nerves, and tissues may cause a variety of life-altering, chronic, and uncomfortable symptoms. Depending on the area sprained, pinched, or severed, someone may experience neuropathy throughout the body, recurring headaches, dizziness, loss of range of motion, pain, and fatigue. Other symptoms may include mood changes, memory difficulties, or sleep and vision problems.
Since the neck houses part of the spine and the spinal cord, the number of symptoms arising from whiplash injuries vary widely. Two people who experience the same jerking motion may present with completely different whiplash injuries.
Low speed collisions, including minor fender benders, can result in long term whiplash injuries. The element of surprise may play a role in the injury. If humans didn’t brace for violent sneezes or other sudden movements, simple daily activities could result in a whiplash injury. The ability to prepare for a sudden back and forth motion can reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.
In a rear end collision, an accident victim may not see or respond to an oncoming vehicle. The sudden motion takes passengers by surprise and creates the dangerous back and forth motion that may result in injuries. Neck strength, support, speed, and the precise angle of movement may also contribute to whiplash injuries.
The majority of whiplash injuries require at-home therapies and heal on their own within a few weeks. Ice, rest, and support can aid the healing process. However, not all injuries go away with time. Depending on the severity of the incident and a person’s unique physiology, some individuals may suffer from whiplash injuries for years after the incident. Nerve injuries may contribute to long term range of motion and neuropathy symptoms. Vertebral injuries may cause chronic pain and intermittent nerve problems.
For long term symptoms, many accident victims must resign themselves to pain management and routine physical therapy exercises. If ignored, the damage may also lead to long-term psychological difficulties including depression and anxiety.
In severe cases, an individual may lose his or her ability to live normally. Lost ability to work or enjoy life can leave whiplash victims with a distinct loss of quality of life. In unresolved whiplash injuries, a legal claim may provide a meaningful source of financial recovery.
In low speed and high speed collisions, drivers and passengers can take steps to protect themselves from whiplash injuries. Adjust your headrest so that the top rests even with the top of your head or slightly higher. At this level, the headrest will cradle your head and reduce the impact experienced during a collision.
We strongly advise anyone who experiences the sudden back and forth movement of whiplash to seek medical support. Explain the accident experience to a qualified medical professional and do not hesitate to return for an additional evaluation if you begin to experience additional symptoms. While most symptoms arise within a day of the incident, some may not appear for days.