Monday, August 02, 2021

What Is Whiplash and How Do You Get It?

A whiplash injury occurs when the head and neck experience vigorous and sudden forward and backward movements. The result is usually a tear or damage of neck muscles, nerves, ligaments, and discs.

Many of the whiplash injuries treated in hospitals are attributed to car accidents, especially of a rear-end nature. When hit from the back by another car, the sudden force pushes your seat forward and consequently, the torso. Since the head was likely not in contact with the seat, it remains backward and the spinal cord takes an abnormal S-shape. This can damage ligaments and other neck and shoulder structures.

Other events that can cause whiplash include physical abuse, roller coasters, sports like bungee jumping and football, and other extreme activities that cause sudden acceleration of the spine.


After an accident, symptoms of whiplash can appear immediately or manifest later as delayed injuries. The symptoms usually last for a few days but in severe conditions, pain and discomfort can persist for months. In cases where injuries were severe or associated with a neurological problem, the pain is likely to be chronic. 

Watch out for the following symptoms of whiplash, especially if you were recently involved in a car accident:

  • Limited range of motion in the neck
  • Neck stiffness that’s accompanied by pain
  • Headaches that start at the base of your skull
  • Sharp pain when moving your neck
  • Pain or tenderness in the upper back arm area and shoulders
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Some people might also experience memory problems, irritability, and blurred vision   

Importance of Seeking Treatment for Whiplash

It’s common for people with whiplash to ignore the pain and discomfort until it becomes unbearable and the neck’s range of motion is close to zero. 

If you are feeling any of the above symptoms, consider seeking medical evaluation even if you have not been involved in an accident. While it might not be whiplash, pain in the neck signifies a serious issue including broken bones. A doctor’s assessment will also detect other issues likely to appear as a delayed injury. 

The problem with such an injury is that you cannot see its extent until it’s too late. There’s also a mistaken belief that low-speed impact cannot cause severe whiplash. Lack of medical treatment and education can cause depression and anxiety, neurological disorders, and life-long disabilities.

Compensation for Whiplash Injury

If your injury was caused by a car accident, you might want to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit. This process ensures that you don’t suffer the losses associated with a crash such as medical bills and lost wages. In a state with at-fault laws, the negligent party is liable for your damages while no-fault areas require your insurance company to reimburse the losses. 

Personal injury lawyers can help you seek compensation for a whiplash injury, along with other damages from an accident. They’ll ask for your account of events, investigate the scene to prove fault, and finally negotiate with insurance companies involved to ensure that you are receiving the right amount of settlement.   

Healing After a Whiplash Injury

Treatment for a whiplash injury can be through medication, physical therapy, or a combination of both. Sometimes, the severity of injuries will require devices like a cervical collar, although prolonged immobilization can cause more harm than good to the affected area. 

During diagnosis, your doctor will first do a physical exam and later an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure if the former results show signs of whiplash.

To regain your range of motion faster, you can also perform basic exercises at home such as neck and shoulder rotations. Remember to seek directions from your doctor first to avoid worsening the injury.

This is a guest blog entry.

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