Whiplash is by far the most common injury following a rear-end collision. It occurs because your body moves much faster than your head in the vehicle. The head then “catches up” with the body in a jerking motion. It stretches and compresses the neck muscles very far, very quickly.
This typically causes severe pain the neck and other parts of the body. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and fatigue. In serious cases, it can also cause a ringing in the ears, inability to sleep well and problems with concentration and memory.
Recovering from Whiplash
Pain associated with whiplash may not appear until hours or even days after the crash. However, when it sets in, it can be debilitating. First, you should visit with a medical professional to be sure that your injury is not something more serious than minor whiplash.
You should be especially wary if you experience any numbness or tingling in other parts of the body, including the shoulders, arms or legs. This could single serious nerve damage. The neck is a very important part of the body, and even small injuries can have serious (and permanent) consequences.
To help the recovery process, follow your doctor’s instructions precisely. Your doctor may suggest a number of treatments, such as telling you to:
- Stay as active as possible, even though your neck is sore or tight
- Use a brace to immobilize the neck while it heals
- Use heat or ice to control swelling, spasms and pain
- Use over-the-counter medication to help control the pain and muscle spasms
Physical therapy may be helpful to restore motion and promote healing.
It’s important that you never try any of these treatments without first consulting your doctor – doing the wrong thing with this type of injury could cause permanent, irreversible damage.
Your doctor might clear you to return to work, school or other daily activities before you have fully recovered. In more serious cases, your doctor may recommend an injection treatment that will help relieve your pain.
It’s also very important to visit your doctor for follow-up care.
Rear-end accidents are very difficult to prevent because you are almost never at fault when they occur. However, you can take certain steps to help prevent whiplash injuries, even if you are rear-ended.
- Always wear your seatbelt properly every time you ride in a vehicle.
- Be sure that the vehicle headrest is high enough to cushion your head properly.
- Avoid driving in a significantly reclined position.
Although whiplash is generally treatable with over-the-counter treatments, that does not mean it is not a serious injury. Speak with your medical professional for more information, and be sure to mention it in your personal injury claim or lawsuit.