Everyone who has ever driven a car understands that car accidents are a risk that comes with the hazards of the road; however, many people don't realize that even relatively minor car accidents can wind up causing serious medical injuries. Related medical bills can pile up quickly even for people with health insurance.
Therefore, people need to understand and be on the lookout for a variety of injuries that can result from a car accident. One of the most common injuries people sustain in accidents is whiplash. Please consider the following important information regarding whiplash.
Causes of Whiplash
When a car is sitting at a stop and gets rear-ended, a number of forces impact the car and the people inside. While the body of the passenger is strapped into place, the head of the driver and the passengers is not. The car will suddenly lurch forward and this will cause the head to snap backward. The head will strike the headrest and bounce off. Sometimes, the head lurches forward when it bounces and strikes the steering wheel or the dashboard. This combination of back and forth motion causes the symptoms and problems associated with whiplash.
Symptoms of Whiplash
When the head is snapping back and forth, this stretches the cervical ligaments that connect the head to the spine and back. This is the reason why people often have back pain and headaches after whiplash. In fact, many of these symptoms don't develop until later. The symptoms of whiplash will vary from person to person because each whiplash injury is slightly different. Many people also have other injuries that they have sustained; however, the symptoms involve headache, back pain, potential trouble seeing or hearing, and even memory loss. These are all reasons to visit a doctor after a car accident.
Diagnosis of Whiplash
The diagnosis of whiplash is usually based on the clinical symptoms. If the patient describes a car accident and the symptoms described above, the diagnosis is typically made; however, it is not unusual for people to receive brain scans to rule out other injuries. If the head strikes the dashboard, there could be other injuries associated with whiplash, such as bleeding in the brain, that could require immediate attention. This is something that can be picked up relatively quickly on a CT scan or MRI. This is why the physician may order this type of imaging.
Treatment of Whiplash
It is not uncommon for the symptoms to persist for days to weeks after the accident. The treatment is usually symptomatic, with people taking medications to control the inflammation associated with their headache or back pain. If there are other injuries that require immediate treatment, these will be treated appropriately. The ultimate treatment for whiplash is time. While this can be frustrating, time will heal the symptoms over the weeks to months ahead depending on the severity of the injuries. People should remain patient with their recovery and heed the advice of their physician.