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How Do I Know if I Suffered Whiplash in an Auto Accident?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), six million car accidents take place in the United States each year. Out of these six million wrecks, 40 percent are rear-end collisions. One common injury that victims often experience after a car accident is whiplash. Because whiplash isn’t a visible injury, it’s rarely detected at the time of the accident. It can be hours or days before a victim begins experiencing symptoms. This makes it difficult to know if you’ve suffered whiplash in an auto accident.

If you were recently involved in a car accident, you may not know how to detect this type of injury. This article will go over what whiplash is, the common symptoms of whiplash, and treatment for whiplash. It’s crucial that you have all the information so your recovery stays on track.

What is Whiplash?

The Mayo Clinic defines whiplash as “a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck.” It gets its name because your neck behaves like a whip being cracked in the air. 

Whiplash resulting from a car accident is most common in rear-end collisions. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have it if you weren’t struck from behind, it can occur from any accident. It just means that you should be especially vigilant for symptoms if you were in a rear-end collision.

Other terms you may hear if you have a whiplash injury include neck strain or neck sprain. 

Common Symptoms: Identifying Whiplash After a Car Accident.

The first step in determining if you have whiplash is knowing what symptoms to look out for. Here are the most common whiplash symptoms that you may experience after a car accident.

  • Stiffness or pain in your neck;
  • Pain that gets worse when you move your neck;
  • Being unable to move your neck as you usually would;
  • A headache that seems to start at the base of your skull;
  • Pain in your upper back, arms, or shoulders;
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms;
  • Feeling dizzy when there seems to be no cause, or when you move your head; and/or
  • Feeling more tired than usual.

There are also less common symptoms of a whiplash injury, including the following.

  • Blurry or altered vision;
  • A ringing sound in your ears;
  • A change in your sleep pattern;
  • Sudden, unexplained irritability;
  • Trouble focusing;
  • Memory loss or other memory problems; and/or
  • Feelings of depression or extreme sadness.

How Long Does Whiplash Last?

There’s no set duration to suffering from whiplash. Whiplash can last days, weeks, or even months, depending on the severity of your injury.

There are factors that can make you more likely to have lasting pain, these include:

  • Severe pain right after the accident;
  • Neurological symptoms, including memory loss; and/or
  • Pain that shoots through your arms or fingers.

While these symptoms don’t always point to a lasting injury, they can be an indicator. Talk to your doctor to learn more about your individual whiplash injury. 

How is Whiplash Treated?

The first step to treating whiplash is obtaining an official diagnosis. Your doctor will begin by asking questions about the accident, your pain levels, and how your daily life is being affected. Your doctor will then perform a series of examinations to test your neck movement abilities. 

Once these exams are complete, your doctor may choose to order an imaging test. Imaging tests can include X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. Whiplash doesn’t show up on these tests, but other potential causes of your pain can be ruled out. 

If your doctor diagnoses you with whiplash, they’ll move on to treating you. The goal of treatment is to restore normal neck functions and eliminate pain. Treatment may include the use of:

  • Rest and relaxation;
  • Exercises designed to restore your range of motion;
  • Hot or cold compresses;
  • Over-the-counter pain medications;
  • Prescription pain medications;
  • Muscle relaxers to loosen up the injured area;
  • Applying numbing injections to the afflicted areas; and
  • Wearing a soft foam cervical collar for short periods of time.

Treatment plans may vary depending on your unique medical conditions and needs.

Why Should You Seek Treatment For Whiplash?

Untreated whiplash injuries can lead to chronic pain and mobility issues. These issues can affect your home life and your work life.There’s also the risk of developing other medical problems.

Health conditions that can arise from untreated whiplash include:

  • Severe headaches or migraines;
  • The development of vertigo;
  • Shoulder or back pain;
  • Spinal misalignment, which can affect movement throughout your body; and/or
  • The onset of degenerative disk disease, which breaks down the discs in your spine.

Whiplash is a serious medical condition. Your health care provider can help you create a plan of action and manage your pain. The key is seeking treatment before, or as soon as the symptoms begin. Finding treatment immediately gives you the best chance at making a full recovery. 

A professional diagnosis can also prove beneficial if you choose to go to pursue a personal injury case after a car accident. As your Albuquerque whiplash injury lawyer will tell you, the more evidence you have, the better.

How Can an Auto Accident Attorney Help You After an Accident?

A car accident comes with a lot of financial hardship. Repair costs, medical bills, and lost wages are all possibilities. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you may feel lost and overwhelmed. Solving those kinds of monetary problems can be difficult, especially without the help of an Albuquerque whiplash lawyer.

If you aren’t sure about that option, consider this. An injury attorney can help you get the financial compensation you need. Your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial hardships could all be taken care of if you win or settle your case. 

There’s no way to change what happened in the accident but you don’t have to remain a victim. Contact Jonathan A. Garcia at Garcia Legal today for a free consultation by using the submission form or by calling (505) 297-1222. He can help you determine if pursuing a personal injury case after your car accident is the right move for you. 

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