Whiplash is an injury that is commonly experienced by individuals who are involved in auto accidents. It occurs when the motion of a vehicle suddenly stops and the head of a person is jerked forward quickly then backward suddenly. It is important that people are aware of the signs of whiplash, but the symptoms may not occur until 2 to 48 hours after the collision.
The symptoms of whiplash are caused by sprains to the ligaments that serve the cervical vertebrae and from strains of the muscles and tendons in the neck. Additionally, the intervertebral discs can be herniated, and associated nerve root damage may occur. Whiplash can cause symptoms that include cervical pain and stiffness and decreased mobility of the head and neck. Most people experience a headache, and the pain can reach downward through the shoulders and into the upper chest. Some individuals may experience dizziness, nausea, blurred vision and impaired swallowing.
Most whiplash symptoms are short-lived, but some patients suffer from discomfort and reduced flexibility for many years. Many physicians prescribe active movement and stretching to alleviate pain and stiffness, but some severe cases require immobilization with a cervical collar. People who are having difficulty recovering from whiplash may find relief from ice applications, physical therapy and chiropractic manipulation. According to a report from the American Chiropractic Association, electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy may reduce pain in some patients.
People who have been injured in a car accident and who are suffering from whiplash may be able to seek compensation for their losses. A personal injury lawyer can help individuals recover damages such as medical payments and lost income by helping them seek a settlement or by filing a civil suit.