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Whiplash: A common car accident injury

Injured woman in car crash getting a whiplash

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According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, 285,477 motor vehicle crashes occurred in 2013. This is equivalent to roughly 782 accidents every day. Although many of these collisions only lead to damaged vehicles, even minor fender-benders can cause a soft tissue injury known as whiplash.

This sprain or strain typically occurs when there is a sudden stretching and retracting of the neck muscles. The abrupt extension and flexion may cause discs, ligaments, joints and nerves to be pulled apart and pushed back together roughly, leading to damage. An Illinois injury attorney often realizes that neck pain may manifest immediately. However, sometimes symptoms are delayed and the damage is not apparent until several days after the accident.

Symptoms of whiplash

An individual who sustains this type of trauma-related neck injury may not necessarily experience pain as an isolated symptom. Other health problems may include the following:

  •  Neck stiffness
  • Back or shoulder pain
  • Muscle and ligament injuries
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Burning or prickling

It is possible that an individual will also experience mental issues such as memory loss or trouble with concentration. An Illinois injury attorney may know that psychological problems that include anxiety, sleep problems, fatigue and depression can accompany whiplash, as well. If a person suffers any of these symptoms after a car accident, it is wise to visit a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options.

Treatment and prognosis

Health care providers often prescribe pain medications to lessen the symptoms of a neck strain. Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medicines or muscle relaxers are common choices. Ice packs reduce swelling and can provide relief during the first two to three days after the injury. A doctor may recommend limiting head and neck movements and avoiding strenuous activities. If the injury is severe, a cervical collar may be used. Some providers recommend that patients perform range of motion and muscle strengthening exercises with a physical therapist or at home.

Individuals with soft tissue injuries to the neck often experience relief from head and neck pain a few days or weeks after the injury. Most patients recuperate within three months of the accident. However, residual pain can occur after any neck trauma. Even a short-term neck injury often leads to medical expenses, time off work, pain and suffering. Compensation may be available to cover these losses. An Illinois injury attorney may be able to provide beneficial legal advice to victims of traffic crashes.

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