If you have been in a car accident, especially a rear-end collision, you may have suffered from a whiplash injury even if you did not feel the effects at the time of impact. Whiplash can cause terrible long-term pain and suffering, but some people do not even realize they have been injured when they first suffer from this type of damage.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is actually a name given to a group of soft-tissue injuries to the neck, shoulders or back. A whiplash-type injury is also called a “deceleration” injury because it results from sudden acceleration-deceleration force. This type of force is most common in car accidents but can actually occur in other types of accidents.
The term “whiplash” first came into use in 1928 when the injury type was noted as a common effect of rear-end collisions between automobiles.
Prior to that time, the term “railway spine” had been used to describe similar acceleration-deceleration injuries caused by sudden starting or stopping of trains.
Whiplash is generally considered to be a type of injury that affects the soft tissues, although bone damage can be involved. In many cases, however, only soft tissues are affected, which makes it very difficult for doctors to reach a conclusive diagnosis.
Soft tissue damage cannot be pictured on an x-ray or MRI, so it is very difficult to “see” whiplash. In fact, in many cases, the only way to tell the extent of the damage is to rely on the self-reporting of the victim. Obviously, this can present problems during a personal injury case when insurance companies or defendants will claim that the victim was not really injured and is simply claiming pain and injury in order to collect money.
Unfortunately, while there will always be people willing to attempt to mislead the system for personal gain, nevertheless, whiplash is a real condition with real symptoms.
What Causes Whiplash?
When a car accident occurs, particularly when a moving car strikes a stationary car from behind, there is a great deal of force pushed through the vehicle. This causes the driver or passengers to snap violently forward then backward.
This motion causes a hyperextension of the neck muscles that can extend into the shoulders and back. This sudden stretching may cause severe pain, stiffness and even paralysis that can last days, weeks, months or even years. It may also cause recurring stiffness and soreness that comes and goes without warning. It’s important to get the proper medical treatment for the neck injury.
If you have been a victim of whiplash, you need to protect your right to collect damages. A personal injury attorney may assist you in collecting payments for medical bills as well as your pain and suffering due to a whiplash injury.