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The Long-Term Effects of Whiplash

Whiplash is an all too common aftereffect of being in an accident – your neck aches, your head hurts, and you might feel dizzy. Maybe it happens right after the event, or maybe the next day. It’s easy enough to take care of with some over the counter pain relievers and maybe an icepack, right? Unfortunately, that is not always enough.

Whiplash happens when the head and neck move backward and forward suddenly, forcing the neck to stretch beyond its normal reach. Car accidents are the biggest cause of whiplash, though sports and amusement park rides also account for whiplash cases. For many people, it is a fairly minor injury that goes away on its own after a few days, or at most a few weeks.

Sadly, some people suffer long-term effects from whiplash that can degrade their quality of life for years following an accident. Ringing in the ears, inability to sleep well, chronic neck and shoulder pain, and concentration or memory problems can all be attributed to severe whiplash that occurred months or even years before.

It’s important to get checked out by your doctor after any accident in which you suspect you may have gotten whiplash. It may take a few days for your symptoms to appear, but if you’re still struggling more than half a year later, you may have chronic whiplash. It can be easy to forget about an incidence of whiplash after a few months, and you may not think to connect shoulder pain and sleeping issues to an old accident, but injuries to the soft tissue in your neck can cause problems long after the fact.

If you are diagnosed with chronic whiplash, your doctor will likely suggest a combination of painkillers, muscle relaxers, physical therapy, or perhaps chiropractic adjustment. You may be asked to undergo x-rays or even a CT scan or an MRI to ensure that there are underlying causes for your symptoms. Lingering problems with no other medical explanation are often thought to be connected to prior cases of whiplash.

Whiplash can be hard to diagnose or prove, but it can become an issue that severely impacts someone’s quality of life. Studies have shown that the more immediate the onset of whiplash symptoms is, the more likely they are to become chronic. When you do see a doctor after an accident, it allows them to record the effects you are feeling and begin treatment, hopefully preventing further issues down the road.

Because of the difficulty diagnosing whiplash and the fact that, unlike a broken bone, soft tissue injuries are not visible on x-rays and scans, many people – and insurance companies – disregard it as the real, lasting injury that it can be. Whiplash can be costly, from doctor’s visits to work absences to prescriptions, and it is critical to contact a lawyer to find out if you can receive compensation for the long-term effects of whiplash.

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