Whiplash: A sometimes slow-developing injury

Whiplash is a frustrating condition. For some people, it resolves in only a few days, but for others, it leads to many months or years of symptoms.

Whiplash occurs when the head is forced forward and back quickly. It may also occur if the head moves from one side to the other rapidly. This injury is a neck strain or neck sprain, not an injury to the spinal cord or column.

Why do people suffer from whiplash?

Whiplash happens because there is an abrupt jerking motion of the head. It's normal to see whiplash injuries in car accidents, although they can happen in other situations as well. Like other injuries, whiplash has a range of symptoms, and they can develop over time.

What symptoms might you have if you have whiplash?

It's normal to have symptoms of lower back pain, numbness in the hand or arm, dizziness, irritability from a lack of sleep, headaches, trouble remembering, stiffness of the neck and neck pain. People with this condition may not have symptoms right away. Symptoms can take up to several days following the crash to present, which often makes patients worry that something new is wrong. The delayed reaction is typical for this condition, however.

What should you do if you suspect whiplash?

After an accident, it's always a good idea to go to the hospital for a checkup. Doctors can often see whiplash developing earlier than you may notice it. A crash causes your body to release adrenaline, so it's likely you won't know that you've suffered the injury.

If you don't go to the hospital right away, go as soon as you realize that you have symptoms developing. It's known that whiplash develops over time, so you may still be able to include it in your claim against the negligent driver.

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