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Whiplash is no laughing matter

You probably know the old joke that, if someone hits your vehicle from behind, get out, grab your neck and claim you have whiplash. The problem is that whiplash is no laughing matter. Anything that potentially causes serious damage to your neck requires a trip to your doctor or an emergency room.

Many instances of whiplash occur in motor vehicle accidents. During accidents, your head may violently jerk back and forth abruptly. This could result in damage to the nerves, tendons, vertebrae and ligaments in your neck, along with the muscles and discs. 

How do I know if I have whiplash?

The first thing you need to know is that you may not experience the symptoms of whiplash in the first 24 hours (or more) after an accident. Someone wise once said that an injury always hurts worse the next day. When it comes to whiplash, this could be true. Nevertheless, watch for the following symptoms in the first hours and days following an accident:

  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Neck pain
  • Arm pain or numbness
  • Hand pain or numbness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Pain between the shoulder blades
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Concentration issues
  • Memory issues
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may need medical attention. Of course, it never hurts to see a doctor as soon after the accident as possible.

What treatment will the doctor prescribe?

After using X-rays and other imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis of whiplash and to assess the amount of damage, your doctor may prescribe a variety of treatments, such as the following:

  • Pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • Traction
  • Heat
  • Ice
  • Massage
  • Ultrasound
  • Injections
  • Gentle exercises

More than likely, it will take a combination of the above treatments to alleviate your pain. If any serious damage occurred, you could need other treatment. The days of cervical collars for whiplash appear to be over. The prevailing theory is that movement is essential to healing.

What can I do about my medical bills and other damages?

Whiplash could prevent you from working for some time. In addition, you probably incurred, and may continue to incur, medical costs associated with your injury, along with other damages. You may be able to recover those financial losses through the filing of a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.

You may want to be wary of any quick offer of settlement from an insurance company. You may not know how long your injury will affect you or the true extent of your financial losses right away. Furthermore, the offer will more than likely not be the amount of compensation you deserve. Instead, you may consider consulting with an attorney who can provide you with your legal rights and options.

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