If you have suffered neck pain after a car accident, you might have sustained a whiplash injury. Whiplash, also referred to as a neck sprain or strain affects your neck’s soft tissues. It can be caused by any sudden backward and forward jerking of the neck, as could easily happen in a rear-end car accident, for instance.
With severe whiplash injuries, the damage can extend beyond the soft tissues of your neck and affect your intervertebral joints, ligaments, discs, nerve roots and cervical muscles. If your whiplash injury was caused by another driver’s negligence, which is usually the case in rear-end collisions, you should discuss your legal options with a lawyer.
Whiplash Injury Symptoms
Pain from a whiplash injury may be felt immediately after a car accident, or you may experience pain several hours or even days later.
Other symptoms you may experience after suffering a whiplash injury include:
- stiffness in your neck;
- injured ligaments or muscles;
- dizziness or headache;
- hoarseness and difficulty chewing and swallowing, which are signs that you may have also injured your larynx and esophagus;
- paresthesias, which is an abnormal sensation (you might feel prickling or burning);
- pain in your shoulder; and
- pain in your back.
To confirm that you have a whiplash injury, your physician will perform a physical exam and might order x-rays to rule out any other injuries or spinal cord problems.
A soft cervical collar, worn for about 2 to 3 weeks, is usually the primary treatment for a whiplash injury.
Other treatments for a whiplash injury include:
- application of heat to ease muscle pain and tension;
- analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain;
- medication to relax muscles; and
- physical therapy and gentle motion exercises.
The symptoms of a mild whiplash injury will usually disappear 2 to 4 weeks after the injury. If your symptoms persist after treatment you might find relief by immobilizing your neck with a cervical traction device. Anesthetic injections might also be worthwhile.
If your whiplash injury symptoms persist or worsen for 2 months, you may need additional diagnostic testing to determine the severity of your whiplash injury. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary, which could lead to time off from work and hefty medical expenses. This is why it would be beneficial to consult with an injury lawyer to discuss filing a claim to recover damages.