If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, one of the first things you should do is seek medical attention. You should do this even if you are not experiencing any immediate symptoms, as some conditions are often slow to present themselves. One such condition is whiplash.
Most people do not realize the true implications of whiplash until they themselves have dealt with it. Whiplash can have serious long-term consequences for the victim, including lost wages, ongoing medical costs, and pain and suffering, to name just a few losses. For this reason, it is important that you recognize the warning signs of whiplash so that you can obtain a confirmed medical diagnosis and possibly use that diagnosis to fight for compensation for your damages.
Common Causes of Whiplash
Whiplash is the result of the neck moving rapidly backward and then forward, thereby causing the muscles to strain unnecessarily. The sudden motion causes the tendons and ligaments in the neck to stretch and tear, which is what ultimately causes the injury known as “whiplash.”
The most common causes of the injury are as follows:
- Motor vehicle accidents;
- Contact sports;
- Physical abuse;
- Horseback riding accidents;
- Biking accidents;
- Slips and falls in which the head jerks back violently; and
- Blows to the head with a heavy object.
Common (and Not-So-Common) Signs of Whiplash
More often than not, whiplash symptoms arise within 24 hours of the precipitating event. However, sometimes symptoms may be delayed by a few days. With treatment, symptoms may last for several weeks, but without, they can go on for months. Common symptoms of whiplash include the following:
- Headaches, specifically at the base of the skull;
- Blurred or double vision;
- Neck pain, stiffness, and tenderness;
- Dizziness; and
- Constant fatigue.
Some less common symptoms associated with whiplash include the following:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears);
- Memory and concentration issues;
- Inability to sleep well;
- Irritability and mood swings; and
- Chronic pain in the shoulders, neck, or head.
There are some symptoms that are characteristic of whiplash but that require immediate medical attention. If your pain spreads to your shoulders and down your arms, if moving your head is painful, or if you experience numbness or weakness in your arms, contact your doctor right away. These symptoms may be indicative of a deeper issue.
Complications of Whiplash
Whiplash should resolve itself within three months, but if it does not, consult your doctor. It is not unheard of for whiplash symptoms to continue for years following an incident. Chronic symptoms may be the result of damaged discs, joints, and ligaments in the neck. They may also be the result of inadequate rehabilitation and continued strain on the already damaged muscles, tissues, and ligaments.
What to do if You Experience Delayed Symptoms of Whiplash
If you experience delayed symptoms of whiplash, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider right away. While most imaging tests are insufficient in detecting the presence of whiplash injury, your doctor will likely make a confirmed diagnosis based on your symptoms alone. Once you have a diagnosis, contact a Rockford whiplash lawyer regarding possible recovery options. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.