What Is Whiplash?

If you are wondering about whiplash, it is defined as any injury to the neck that is caused by a sudden movement of the head backwards, forwards, or sideways. The term was coined in the 1920s by a doctor, although technically it isn’t a medical term.

Whiplash is often used when talking about car accidents, and perhaps surprisingly, most injuries happen at speeds of less than 12 mph. Speak with a car accident attorney if you’ve been hurt in one of these crashes while in California. However, this type of neck strain can also commonly affect anyone playing football or other contact sports.

Because the neck is moved suddenly and quickly, the tendons and muscles can be stretched or even torn. Neck strains aren’t the same as sprains to the neck, although the two are often confused. Whiplash is often accompanied by concussion if the blow to the neck is of sufficient force.

What Is Whiplash?

In the United States, around 120,000 cases of whiplash occur every year, making it one of the most common types of bodily injury. The cost of whiplash injuries in terms of medical expenses, lost work hours, and disability claims is well over $8 billion annually.

One of the most common causes of whiplash is vehicle accidents, especially those in which a driver is hit from behind by another car. Many victims of whiplash need to miss work for at least several weeks, and the symptoms last for over six months for about 75 percent of those affected. Chronic pain can still be a problem for many people, even twenty years after the actual injury happened.

Whiplash can be extremely painful, as well as potentially serious, resulting in extreme pain in the neck or head, especially when you move your head backwards or forwards. The neck muscles can also feel tight or knotted, and all of this can lead to a limited range of movement of the head and neck. If you turn your head to look over your shoulder, you will experience stiffness or mild to moderate pain.

Whiplash can also lead to headaches. These can vary in their intensity and tend to be most noticeable at the base of the skull, or radiating towards the forehead. Whiplash can also lead to various other symptoms, such as blurry vision, difficulty swallowing, difficulty balancing, lightheadedness, and tingling or numbness of the hands and fingers. In the long term, cognitive problems and post trauma depression are also common.

Although serious whiplash should be treated immediately, the good news is that most cases will heal on their own, although there are steps to take to help that process. A collar or a neck brace is often recommended to provide support for the neck, and applying an ice pack or moist heat can also alleviate the pain. Painkillers can be taken if recommended by a physician, and simply massaging the neck can also help.

Of course, if you have any injury to the head or neck, you should get medical attention as soon as possible; it can mean the difference between a quick recovery and long term pain. A personal injury lawyer can also help you seek financial damages if someone else was at fault.