The Results of Whiplash After a Car Accident
Our car accident lawyers at Frenkel and Frenkel are experts at gaining compensation due to negligent drivers. This can be from vehicle damage or bodily harm, such as from whiplash. Whiplash, an injury to the neck that’s caused by an abrupt jerking motion, is the most common injury experienced in vehicle accidents. If you’ve experienced a car accident and had a whiplash injury, it’s important to understand how it can impact the spine, vertebrae, and other parts of the neck and lower back.
The vertebrae in the top portion of the spine helps support and stabilize your head and neck and allow you to freely twist and turn your head every which way. When whiplash occurs, a strong blow from the rear causes the head to whip backward and then forward in a sharp motion – much like the cracking of a whip. Medical News Today explains that this motion can result in stretching or tearing of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Alaska Spine Institute references the vertebrae pressing against the spine resulting in pinched nerves, irritated nerves, and herniated discs.
Whiplash Symptoms Often Difficult to Diagnose
According to Healthline.com, whiplash injuries ‘might not appear for a while, so it’s important to pay attention to any physical changes for a few days following any accident’. Pain or stiffness can go away and then return and the connection of the neck to the spinal cord, soft tissue, and nerves can require more extensive treatment. As a result, it’s clear that whiplash injuries can manifest in many different ways and vary in severity. It’s possible you won’t fully understand the implications of a car accident injury until weeks or even months later. At this point, you may not associate the pain that you’re feeling with the car crash that occurred a while ago. This is why it’s important to consult a medical professional. These fees can add up and that’s where your car accident attorneys’ can help. It’s important to understand common ways that whiplash can affect the human body.
The Mayo Clinic provides a great resource to understand the symptoms of whiplash that might affect an individual in a car accident. The most common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. Whiplash can also injure bones along the spine, discs between the bones and vertebrae, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other tissues of the neck, including the facet joints.
According to the National American Spine Society, “facet joint pain is the most common cause of chronic neck pain after a car accident”. This is typically tenderness on the back of the neck, just off-center. This pain can’t be seen on MRIs or x-rays, but it can be diagnosed by an injection called ‘medial branch block (MBB)’.
Another common cause of neck pain is from an injury to the spinal disc, or the ‘cervical intervertebral disc’. The outer wall of the disc is composed of bundles of fibers that are prone to tearing during whiplash. These tears can sometimes lead to disc degeneration or herniation, which can result in the irritation or compression of nerves in the area. This can cause radiating pain in the arms or neck.
Lastly, damage to the muscles and ligaments in the neck can be another major source of pain in addition to causing stiffness and a limited range of motion. This pain will typically only last a few weeks as the muscles begin to heal. However, while the pain may subside, the range of motion can continue to be abnormal.
The Mayo Clinic reminds us that “most people with whiplash recover within a few months after a course of pain medication, exercise and other treatments. Some people experience chronic neck pain and other ongoing complications.” While neck pain is common with a whiplash injury, there are many others that could result from a motor-vehicle accident. Some of the more common results of whiplash injuries are as follows:
- Neck and Shoulder Pains - stiffness of the neck or instability, reduced range of motion, upper back pain, shoulder pain, or tingling, weakness, or numbness that radiates in the shoulder and potentially down the arm
- Headaches – Outside of neck pain, headaches are the most common symptom of whiplash. This can occur from a direct brain injury or – more likely – an injury to the muscles, ligaments, and facet joints of the cervical spine.
- Brain Injuries – When the brain is forced forward and backward in a sharp motion, it may bounce off the skull, leading to bruising or bleeding in the brain. Brain injuries can cause many long-term consequences including forgetfulness, depression, emotional instability, and trouble concentrating.
- Dizziness – This typically occurs when there’s an injury to the facet joints of the cervical spine, though it can be caused by a brain or brain stem injury as well. Unlike many other symptoms, dizziness is usually very temporary.
- TMJ Problems – Whiplash can also damage the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Damage to this joint can result in pain or clicking and popping noises when chewing, speaking, or just moving the jaw around. When it’s not properly evaluated, TMJ problems can develop into headaches and facial pain.
- Lower Back Pain – While whiplash is typically thought to be an injury to the neck, the lower back can often be injured as well. This is because the lower back suffers from compression just like the neck does.
What to Do After a Car Accident
If you are experiencing pain from an auto accident, seek a doctor’s help for your injury and let us help you recover the cost of your accident for vehicle damage, medical bills, and physical therapy. Schedule a free consultation with our auto accident lawyers in Dallas, Texas by calling us today at 1-800-834-0000.