Is my neck pain actually whiplash pain caused by a car accident?
If you have been in a car accident in Michigan, chances are you may have experienced some type of whiplash, even if mild, that caused pain in the neck and shoulders area. It is a delayed symptom injury that may not manifest for several days following an accident – or longer.
Furthermore, a vehicle does not even have to be traveling at a high rate of speed for severe whiplash to occur for one or more people involved in an accident. Drivers traveling as slow as 5 mph could be prone to injuries.
Many car accident victims experience whiplash headaches but are unaware it has occurred and therefore do not seek immediate medical care. Given how common it is, drivers and passengers should be aware of the potential of whiplash, and how it can impact them.
But what is whiplash? How do I know if I have whiplash?
What is whiplash?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. It is medically known as cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome.
Whiplash is commonly caused by rear-end car accidents. The sudden and unexpected nature of the impact along with the way a rear-end accident forces the head and neck to move can result in whiplash headaches and other issues. There can be other causes of whiplash pain, such as sports accidents or falls, but car accidents are the most common. In many cases, whiplash may be diagnosed as a neck sprain or strain, but these terms also include other types of neck injuries.
Whiplash can be diagnosed by most medical doctors, including primary care physicians like a family practitioner or internal medicine specialist. Anyone who has recently been in an accident should see his or her doctor to make sure there are no serious injuries.
What are the symptoms of mild or severe whiplash? It can be first recognized as pain that starts as neck and shoulder pain or stiffness. This is because whiplash is generally caused by muscles, ligaments, and tendons that are sprained or strained by the hyperextension of your head and neck.
The neck consists of “bony blocks” known as vertebrae, which are joined by discs to provide your body with strength, durability, and flexibility. The force from a car accident can jolt a person’s vertebrae out of alignment, potentially causing fractures. Further symptoms like dull muscular aches or an inability to turn your head normally will often follow.
Other symptoms include:
- Whiplash Headache (the International Medical Society of Paraplegia has indicated that roughly 60 percent of people diagnosed with whiplash suffer headaches for at least a short period)
- Arm or hand pain
- Tingling of the arms, hands, neck, or other area
- A general feeling of numbness
- Jaw stiffness and soreness
Any of these pain symptoms should prompt you to seek medical attention to make sure that your minor or severe whiplash injury can be properly managed. Some patients may need physical therapy or another long-term treatment program that can be very expensive, although necessary. More serious whiplash symptoms can include blurry vision or a ringing in the ears.
Not all patients have the same symptoms. A whiplash headache is a common symptom, but the symptoms mentioned above could point to a different medical issue altogether. Therefore, getting medical attention in the immediate aftermath following an auto accident is recommended.
Whiplash treatment and length of recovery
The seriousness of a whiplash case will vary from one patient to another. Many will recover within a few weeks by following a treatment plan that can include pain medication, exercise and stretches. Heat or cold applied to the neck for 15 minutes every few hours can help manage the pain in mild whiplash cases.
Most people recover fully within three months, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. However, chronic neck pain and other long-lasting complications can result from whiplash, which over time can become debilitating to the patient.
Proving whiplash following a Michigan auto accident
Since the severity of whiplash can vary significantly from one person to another, it can be hard to prove legally. However, there are several steps you can take to help increase your chances that a diagnosis of whiplash will help support your case following an auto accident:
- The interval at which you seek and receive medical care is an important factor in the legal aspects of your case, and potentially the amount of compensation you will receive.
- The amount of damage to a vehicle matters as well. If there is a significant amount of damage, insurance company adjusters may offer higher settlements giving the obvious serious nature of the auto accident.
- The amount of money spent on past medical bills, the expected cost of continued care, and whether any injuries resulting from the auto accident are permanent or temporary can help to identify a compensation value that may be placed on your case. Permanent injuries that are proven in court are more likely to result in a large settlement to help cover the cost of medical bills.
- The documentation of the injury may be even more important, so making your current and past medical records available for your case will be very helpful. Whiplash must be proven and treatment by medical professionals should be documented. It is more likely that an insurance company will offer an amount of money that reflects the medical expenses associated with treating the whiplash injury.
If you have been in a car accident in Michigan and suffer from whiplash pain, Lawrence Kajy and his team of auto accident attorneys can help you get the money you deserve. Whiplash is a common injury following an auto accident and it can result in extensive healthcare needs and medical expenses. Make sure you have a team dedicated to fighting for every penny you deserve.