It’s often been used as the punchline for jokes, but whiplash is no laughing matter. Whiplash, a soft tissue neck injury, affects about three million people in the United States each year. Beyond the initial injury, though, the long-term effects of whiplash can be far-reaching. Also known as whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) chronic whiplash can dramatically impact a person’s quality of life.
- What is whiplash? It’s a type of neck strain that occurs when the neck is snapped to its extreme range of motion and then back, in a whiplike movement. This can happen in an automobile accident, but it also happens frequently in contact sports and with physical abuse or assault.
- What are the immediate symptoms of whiplash? Right after an accident, people often feel pain and soreness. However, whiplash symptoms may not appear for hours or even days. That’s one reason it’s important to seek medical care after an accident, even if you don’t have symptoms right away. When symptoms do appear, they include stiffness, fatigue, difficulty with concentration and memory, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, vertigo, tingling or numbness in the arms and hands, jaw pain, and irritability. A person with whiplash may also experience pain in the head, neck, and back.
- What are the long-term effects of whiplash? When whiplash is not properly diagnosed or treated, the long-term consequences can be significant. Though some people recover from whiplash in a week or two, others experience long-term symptoms that include:
- Severe neck pain: Whiplash can cause damage to the muscles, connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments. Additionally, swelling in the neck can press on nerves and cause pain to radiate down the arms and across the upper back.
- Dizziness: Like a concussion, whiplash can injure the soft tissues of the brain. This can lead to intermittent bouts of dizziness and feelings of nausea. Ringing in the ear can also occur in conjunction to the dizziness and may be related to changes in the inner ear caused by whiplash.
- Chronic back pain: Just like the neck, the lower back can be taken to its extreme range of motion and back in whiplash incident, causing it to sustain facet joint injuries, muscular strain, and spinal fracture.
- Limited mobility: When whiplash isn’t properly treated, the result can be chronic neck stiffness that limits mobility.
- Chronic headaches: A variety of factors can lead to chronic headaches after whiplash, including previous concussion and, interestingly, depression.
Just because whiplash is common, that doesn’t mean it’s simple. If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident or because of the actions of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for expenses related to your injuries and their long-term impact on your life. At Taps and Associates, we provide personal attention to every case we handle, giving professional advice based on extensive experience. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney you can trust, contact us through our website or call 404-492-8746.