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Whiplash Injury Caused By a Car Accident

Whiplash Injury Caused By a Car Accident

If you are suffering from a whiplash injury caused by a car accident, you are not alone. In facts, whiplash injuries as a result of car accidents are one of the most common injuries that people suffer in vehicle-related incidents. Usually whiplash symptoms appear and clear within a few weeks from the occurrence of the accident. Whiplash-related injuries and pain are reported by 15-60 percent of people involved in car accidents. 

Neck injuries resulting from car accidents take all different forms and are in varying severity. Neck injuries from car accidents range from minor muscle injuries to spinal column fractures/breaks or luxations and even spinal cord or nerve root lesions.

What is "whiplash"?

Hyperextension result from car wrecks is what is most commonly referred to as "whiplash" injury. The term whiplash began being used around 1928 by a doctor/scientist named Crowe to describe the results of sudden acceleration-deceleration on the neck. The term whiplash was originally used to describe what happened to the body, spine, and neck as a result of a sudden stopping or acceleration due to an impact. However, most people now use the term "whiplash" to describe both what happens to the body in such an incident and the injuries suffered as a result of such a wreck. It is important to distinguish between trauma to the cervical spine, spinal cord and nerve roots hyperextension-related injuries. 

How severe is whiplash injury?

It is extremely dangerous to try to fit all whiplash injuries resulting from car accidents in a single category. The injuries that are called whiplash vary widely, so we need to use caution when trying to describe how severe whiplash is. Most people (doctors, chiropractors, lawyers, insurance companies,etc.) presume that whiplash injuries are "soft tissue" injuries, but it is important that this assessment is verified by testing. When a person complains of injuries consistent with whiplash following a car accident, imaging such as X-rays and MRI scans should generally be performed in order to assess the severity of the injury. 

Following a car accident result in a whiplash-type injury to a person, nearly 40% of patients have persistent pain/discomfort, and approximately 10% of whiplash-injured people are unable to return to work. It is not uncommon for people that have suffered a whiplash-type injury to have numbness, pain and weakness of the neck, shoulder and upper limbs, and these types of symptoms are particularly challenging. 

What are the typical symptoms associated with whiplash injuries following a car accident?

Again, it is important to avoid assuming the severity of a whiplash injury based upon what people typically suffer in car accidents that generally result in these types of injuries. In addition to neck and shoulder pain, many people suffer:

  • pain radiating into the arm(s),
  • blurred vision,
  • vertigo,
  • dysphagia and cognitive impairments.

Also, in cases where severe whiplash occurs, the possibility of injury to the cervical cord and nerve roots, vertebral column or brain stem must be considered. Those types of injuries are completely separate from a whiplash injury.