The sudden impact of a rear-end collision is a frightening experience. A surprise to most drivers, these crashes often cause a condition called whiplash. Most Californians are familiar with this term, but not the specific medical implications. Whiplash is a painful injury that, if untreated, can cause chronic lifetime pain.

Thankfully, the most challenging part of treating whiplash is identifying when someone has it. Those involved in a car accident may not experience symptoms for days or weeks.

Common symptoms of whiplash

Whiplash is most common in car accidents but may result from a sports injury or physical abuse. Whiplash may even stem from shaken baby syndrome. Whiplash most often occurs when a sudden impact rapidly jerks a person’s head and neck back-and-forth, like a whip cracking. Most symptoms develop a few days after suffering the injury:

  • Painful/stiff neck: Most victims of whiplash feel neck pain and limited mobility. Small neck movements can cause incredible pain, and some people experience headaches at the base of the skull.
  • Tender arms and shoulders: Whiplash can cause people’s arms to feel tender or tingly, and many people report their arms feeling numb.
  • Sensory problems: The neck is a very sensitive part of the body full of nerve endings. Whiplash may cause fatigue, dizziness, blurred vision, ringing ears, memory problems, or depression.

How doctors treat whiplash

People who suffer whiplash may not display symptoms for days. Anyone feeling the above symptoms a few days after a car accident, sports injury or other physical trauma may have whiplash. A doctor’s immediate intervention can prevent the onset of chronic pain.

Doctors treat most cases with pain medication and physical therapy, but some may require a chiropractor or neurologist. Doctors may treat severe cases with a neck brace, muscle relaxants or massage. Cases with muscle or ligament damage may require traction or even surgery.

Legal recourse for medical bills

Those suffering from whiplash have found legal success working with a local lawyer familiar with motor vehicle accidents. An attorney can assess an individual’s legal claim and help navigate dense insurance paperwork so victims can focus on healing and recovery.