What You Need to Know About Whiplash

McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C.

accident injuryWhiplash is a common issue after an automobile accident. For most minor collisions, symptoms are less severe and generally resolve within a week or so. In more serious accidents, issues can be ongoing, leaving the sufferer in extreme pain for an extended period of time.

Symptoms of whiplash can manifest themselves immediately following an accident, however the most severe pain may not be prevalent for a few hours to a day or two after the incident. Discomfort can present itself in a variety of ways, which are collectively referred to as whiplash-associated disorders. Some of the most common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Pain in neck area – Neck pain after a car accident could be isolated to one area of the neck or might radiate down the shoulders, arms and even into the hands. The pain is typically caused by muscle or ligament strains, but could also be the sign of a more serious issue such as injuries to discs, joints and bones.
  • Stiffness – Reduced mobility in the neck and shoulders is common after an accident. This is typically caused by deep tissue swelling or tightness.
  • Headache – Muscle tightness can cause irritation in the joints which can result in a pretty nasty headache. If you have a headache after an accident, it is important to rule out a concussion which could lead to severe neurological issues.    
  • Neck weakness – Stretched and torn soft tissue can create neck instability, however it could also be the sign of a fracture.
  • Upper back and shoulder issues – When the muscles and ligaments in the neck become strained, the pain can also migrate to other regions close to the injury site, such as the upper back and shoulders.
  • Tingling or weakness – Whiplash can irritate the spinal nerve endings, causing them to become inflamed or compressed. This can create numbness, weakness or even a tingling sensation in the extremities.

In addition to these common symptoms, there are a variety of other whiplash-associated disorders which can create ongoing issues. These might include:

  • Dizziness – Instability in the neck area can create a vertigo sensation. It is important to rule out a concussion if you are experiencing lightheadedness after an accident.
  • Vision issues – Blurry vision, seeing bright flecks of light, spots in the field of vision or other vision concerns can be the sign of nerve damage, a concussion or other serious issues. It can also contribute to feelings of dizziness.   
  • Emotional instability – Irritability, depression, anxiety and other emotional issues can be an on-going concern after a car accident. Emotional issues can be caused by a concussion, post-traumatic stress, extreme pain or even concerns from the financial and legal repercussions of the accident.
  • Tinnitus – Commonly known as a ringing or buzzing in one or both ears, tinnitus can be an intermittent nuisance or a constant problem. There are many whiplash related issues that can result in this disorder including nerve damage, a jaw injury, a brain injury or even the result of stress.
  • Insomnia – After an accident resulting in whiplash, it might be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can be the result of whiplash related pain, stress or even a concussion.
  • Lack of energy – Fatigue can be caused by sleep issues but can also be the result of the body healing.
  • Memory issues – Cognitive concerns such as memory loss or lack of concentration can be alarming. These can be the result of a concussion but can also be from ongoing stress after an accident.

Even if your accident seems minor, it is crucial to seek medical attention afterwards. This will provide a baseline of your condition and help to determine areas of concern should your symptoms become more severe. In addition to seeking medical attention, if you are the victim of an accident due to someone else’s negligence, it is imperative to seek qualified legal counsel. The professionals at McLario, Helm, Bertling & Spiegel have over 30 years of personal injury experience. Contact them today for a free consultation.

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