Whiplash 101: How to Deal With Whiplash from Car Accidents

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In the United States each year, there are about 6 million car accidents

If you were in one of those 6 million car accidents, you may be suffering from whiplash. If you have constant headaches and severe neck pain, you most likely have whiplash.

Are you trying to understand whiplash and what to do about it? Read this article to learn how to deal with whiplash from car accidents.

What is Whiplash?

Before you can learn to treat whiplash, you have to understand what it is.

Whiplash is extremely common, and it happens when someone’s neck suffers a rapid back and forth movement, like when you suddenly accelerate or decelerate in a car.

This back and forth movement to your neck happens a lot in car accidents.  The term “whiplash” was coined in 1928 when cars and car accidents started becoming more popular.

Before then, whiplash was referred to as “railway spine” because the same motion and pain happened to people who were involved in train accidents.

A whiplash injury can damage the soft tissue and even the bone structures near your neck. However, there are also other conditions that whiplash can cause.

Normally whiplash isn’t life-threatening, but if it isn’t treated, it can lead to some long-term disability and other problems.

Most people who are in a small car accident may recover more quickly from whiplash. However, if it was a serious car accident, recovery could last months.

Some people even experience symptoms years after they experience whiplash.

What Causes It

As we touched on earlier, whiplash is normally a car crash injury that occurs when the neck snaps forward or back quickly.

This can happen even if your car isn’t moving, but when someone else hits your car. Rear impacts are the main causes of whiplash because the force from behind your car can push your neck forward and force it into a hyperextended, backward position as the seat pushes you forward. 

Right after that, your neck will snap backward and go into a forward, hyper flexed position.

Being in a car accident isn’t the only way that you can suffer from whiplash, however. You may also suffer from whiplash if someone hits you and then your neck snaps forward and backward.

Some high-impact sports, like rugby or football, may even increase the risk of you experiencing whiplash.

Symptoms of Whiplash

If you have suffered from a car accident, you may be wondering if the pain you’re experiencing is actually whiplash.

Normally the pain is too hard to ignore. If you think you have it, check for symptoms like:

  • Headaches that start at the base of your neck and travel up to your forehead
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion in your neck
  • Tightness in your neck
  • Tense or tight muscles
  • Pain rocking your head from side to side
  • Pain moving your head to look over your shoulder

Sometimes you’ll notice pains like these immediately after the accident or injury. However, in some cases, you may not notice the pain starts until hours or even days afterward.

You should also be careful because sometimes the blow can cause a concussion as well.  Sometimes the concussion can be serious, so you should make sure that you see your doctor.

If you notice that your headache or neck pain starts to get worse or won’t go away, make sure you seek emergency medical care. You should also seek care if you notice any trouble talking, feeling dizzy, confused, nausea, or being excessively tired.

How It’s Diagnosed

If you think you have whiplash, you should probably go to the doctor to get it diagnosed.

If you do have whiplash and the car accident wasn’t your fault, it can be helpful to have medical records to prove to the insurance companies that you did suffer injuries from the accident.

To diagnose if your neck is strained, normally the doctor will first examine you.

If they can’t determine it based on a physical examination, then you may need an X-ray or a CT scan.

Different Treatments for Whiplash

If your doctor does diagnose you with whiplash, there are all kinds of different treatments that can help relieve some of your pain.

Icing your neck is one of the most common and easiest ones. Putting an ice pack on your neck will help reduce your pain and swelling. You can do it every 3 to 4 hours for about 15 minutes.

After you ice your neck, you can also try applying moist heat to your neck. You should only do this 2-3 days after icing it, however. Once the swelling has died down, you can use warm towels or a warm bath to help soothe the pain in your neck.

Taking some over-the-counter painkillers can also help reduce some of your pain as well. These medicines can have some side effects, so you should make sure you don’t use them regularly and rely on them.

If your pain is too much, talk to your doctor about other prescription medications that may help you.

Your doctor may also recommend that you wear a neck brace or a collar to help with the whiplash. These aren’t recommended for long-term use, however, because they can actually weaken the muscles in your neck.

If the pain is too much in the beginning though, it can help to relieve some of that pain.

Deal With Whiplash From Car Accidents Today!

If you’re dealing with whiplash from car accidents, you may end up missing work or having to pay a lot of money in medical bills.

Sometimes the car accident and injuries aren’t your fault. If they’re not, you can hire a lawyer to fight for compensation for your injuries. 

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