Whiplash, or soft-tissue injuries to the neck, is a common type of injury people sustain in car accidents. Although it’s considered a relatively mild injury, some accident victims with whiplash suffer permanent partial disability because of it.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a catchall term for injuries to the soft tissues of the neck. It occurs after a sudden acceleration-deceleration force that causes the head to whip in one direction and then quickly in another direction, such as in a car accident. People also can sustain whiplash injuries from amusement park rides, physical altercations and sports-related incidents.
When the head is whipped around suddenly, it can cause overstretching and tearing of the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck. It often occurs as a result of rear-end car accidents.
Prolonged Whiplash Symptoms
Whiplash causes pain and discomfort that can be very frustrating because it prohibits normal movement and affects daily life. The symptoms can linger for years for some patients, leading to what’s referred to as “whiplash-associated disorders,” a more severe and chronic condition.
Below are a few other symptoms that whiplash can cause.
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue and weariness
- Loss of range of motion
- Muscle spasms
- Sleep interference
- Problems with memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Ringing in the ears
Treatments for Whiplash
There are several types of treatment doctors may recommend for whiplash patients. Treatment may depend on severity and type of injury, among other factors. Below are a few common components of a whiplash treatment plan.
- Education – The more educated the patient is about the recovery process, the greater the chances are of a full recovery. Doctors should educate whiplash patients about the mechanics of the injury, available treatments and likely outcomes. “Patients should understand that this is a real injury but that nearly all patients have the ability to fully recover,” explains Jason C. Eck, DO, MS on MedicineNet.com.
- Exercise – Whiplash patients may show improvement when they perform a series of daily range-of-motion exercises. Movements that benefit whiplash may involve rotational exercises performed 10 times each hour, according to Eck.
- Neck brace – Neck braces or cervical collars once were routinely recommended by doctors for whiplash to limit range of motion and prevent further injury. It’s less commonly used now, however, because some experts believe range of motion as soon as the injury allows provides the most benefit.
- Medication – Pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers all may be used to reduce symptoms.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy and occupational therapy can strengthen muscles, increase range of motion, ease pain and help the patient return to work.
- Mental health treatment – In some severe or prolonged cases, whiplash patients can develop emotional issues such as depression, anxiety disorders and more. Mental health counseling and treatments may be needed.
Difficulties with Whiplash Car Accident Claims
Stretched muscles and ligaments don’t show up on X-rays; there is no specific medical test that can verify that a person has whiplash. Diagnosis is made primarily through doctor examination and patient input.
As such, whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries can be hard to prove on a car accident claim. Insurance companies may try to invalidate the severity of the condition and may try to discredit a car accident victim’s claim altogether.
Car accident victims who have their claims denied or who suffered serious injuries and extensive damages should see an attorney for help. An attorney can help compile evidence to support the claim. The best way to demonstrate your injury to the insurer or the courts is to have your condition fully documented. Appropriate medical records, appointments, treatments and doctors’ notes should be presented. An attorney can prove the conditions of the accident may have caused whiplash.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer at Ron Meyers & Associates
For help with a whiplash car accident claim, call our injury lawyers at Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC for a free, no-obligation consultation. Contact us today at 844-920-2438.