How Does Whiplash Occur?

Person with a neck pain

After a motor vehicle accident, it’s not uncommon for someone to claim that they’re suddenly suffering from whiplash. Although the term does have a valid place in medical terminology, it sometimes gets used by people as a catchall term for a variety of minor to insignificant injuries. Despite this, there is a very real form of whiplash that can have lasting harm on a person’s body. In these cases, the best thing for a person to do is contact a knowledgeable Parkersburg personal injury lawyer, who can then help them figure out what the next step to take, is. Before determining what to do in the event of whiplash though, it’s important to first discuss what the neck pain is, how it originates, and ultimately how to deal with it.

What Is It?

The neck pain that results from a crash is the result of a rapid movement of the muscles located in the neck. When they’re swung back-and-forth in a sudden and disruptive motion, it can create unnecessary stress on the muscles and cause the ligaments to stretch and possibly even tear. This undue stretching and tearing causes even more pain than would otherwise normally occur and is the primary reason neck pain has become a serious issue after car accidents.

Although motor vehicle accidents are the most common reason behind neck pain, there are also plenty of other situations that cause the ligaments to unnecessarily stretch and tear. These situations include extreme physical abuse, unusually rough contact from sports, horseback riding, or any fall that involves the neck being thrown back or the head making contact with a heavy object. Given the variety of ways in which neck pain can result, it’s no wonder that many people seek out a Parkersburg personal injury lawyer to help with the issues that arise from it.

What Are The Most Common Symptoms?

Despite the frequency with which people claim to suffer from neck pain, the symptoms that are associated with torn or stretched ligaments aren’t entirely well known. For those are wondering if they’re suffering from genuine neck pain, there are a few key symptoms to keep track of. First, those suffering from neck pain tend to have a general stiffness in their neck that can’t be corrected with posture. In addition, they typically report suffering from dizziness and headaches, which are primarily centered at the base of the skull. Aside from general dizziness, those suffering from legitimate neck pain also tend to report suffering from blurred vision and a level of fatigue that manifests itself as constant weariness.

While those are just some of the most common symptoms, there are also other symptoms that appear, but less frequently. These less common symptoms range from the relatively harmless to the incredibly serious. In terms of less serious symptoms, some people have reported a general irritability, as well as difficulty with sleeping at night. For those suffering from more severe problems, there have been reports of people suffering from chronic pain long after the accident occurred, as well as significant issues with concentration and memory.

It is because of this wide range of symptoms that neck pain has come to envelope so many distinct problems with the upper part of the human body. This problem is compounded by the way people react in the moments immediately following an accident. In general, people try to focus any injuries to a specific area of their body, so it’s simply easier to assign everything to the neck, even if the actual problems are deeper or more disparate across the entire body.

In fact, more serious complications can occur if what began as neck pain has now moved on to pain in other parts of the body. It’s recommended that you contact a doctor if your neck pain has evolved into pain across your chest, shoulders, and head. This is especially true if your pain has turned into a general numbness or weakness. While you should be in constant communication with your lawyer to ensure that your case is being handled appropriately, you should spend just as much time speaking to your doctor to ensure that your body is being similarly treated appropriately.

How Is Neck Pain Diagnosed?

While most lesser forms of neck pain can be treated with simple home remedies, such as with the concentrated application of an ice pack or a few painkillers, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more serious cases of neck pain that need more rigorous treatment. As previously mentioned, there are certain red flags associated with specific types of neck pain, which can mean you need to seek out immediate medical attention.

In these circumstances, what happens next will typically depend on your doctor. Although it’s recommended to record everything that occurs after an accident, to bolster your claim in court, you don’t need to worry about that as much when you see the doctor. While everything that occurs in the hospital will certainly be relevant to your claim, it’s unnecessary for you to record everything, as the hospital will instead keep track of it for you. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that you shouldn’t try to avoid the hospital out of a fear of medical costs. Once you have a knowledgeable lawyer by your side, they’ll make sure those costs are covered by your insurance and anyone else that is held liable for the accident. Making sure that you’re in good health is far more important than trying to avoid a few medical bills.

Once you’ve visited the doctor, they’ll likely ask you a few questions regarding your accident. These questions aren’t to determine liability from the accident or anything, they’re simply one of the doctor’s many tools for making an effective diagnosis before treatment can occur. After testing your pain receptiveness in various areas of your body, they may need more information before reaching a conclusion. In these cases, they’ll most likely request to do an X-ray scan. This is primarily to rule out other possibilities that could also potentially be causing the pain, such as arthritis.

There are also other tests that a doctor may issue, such as a CT scan or an MRI, but those usually indicate a much more serious injury to the spinal cord or soft tissues around it.

Possibilities for Treatment

As mentioned previously there are quite a few home remedies associated with relieving neck pain stress. In the event of a more serious injury though, there are a few alternatives that doctors recommend. If a normal painkiller like Tylenol proves to be ineffective, then a doctor can write a prescription for a stronger one instead.

Other than traditional medication, there is also the possibility of physical therapy to consider. By applying something either hot or cold to your neck, you can then practice a few key exercises to restore strength and flexibility to the area. Aside from keeping your neck stable, it’s important to keep your mind stable as well. Relaxation techniques can help to keep your mind off the neck pain and put you in a better mood to speed up your recovery.

Although there’s a stereotype of someone walking around in a foam collar after an accident, the truth is that these types of collars should not be worn very often. Doctors typically recommend that these kinds of foam collars should only be worn for a few hours at a time immediately following an injury.

While these are the most common ways for people to deal with the neck pain from an accident, this is by no means an exhaustive list. In addition to the methods listed above, people have also used acupuncture, electronic nerve stimulation, and even chiropractors. If you’re someone that is currently suffering neck pain and haven’t seen progress from traditional routes, then one of these alternatives might help instead.

Complications To Be Aware Of

Despite the range of problems that can arise from neck pain, it typically does not last a long time. On average, a person will only experience neck pain for a few days at the most before it gradually goes away. Still, there are cases of people suffering from neck pain for several weeks, even up to a few months. Unlike the neck pain itself, one of the biggest issues is the chronic pain that can develop. Although doctors can typically trace back the origins of chronic pain to specific damage after an accident, it doesn’t actually always have an obvious medical explanation. This lack of a clear origin point can make treating chronic pain difficult, which makes the alternate medications we referenced earlier far more relevant.

What To Do

If you’re someone that has suffered from any form of neck pain after an accident, then the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury lawyer. After having done so, the next thing you’ll want to do is start recording everything that happened after the accident. The better job you do with record keeping, the more evidence you’ll have to help defend your claim in court. Of course, the most important step is to take care of yourself and seek out medical attention as quickly as possible.

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Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law