Kansas and Missouri drivers are at risk for a painful injury after an automobile collision.  Whiplash is an often misunderstood condition.  The term refers to the injury of the cervical vertebrae in the neck and the surrounding soft tissues.  Sudden jerking or quick forward or backward motion can result in whiplash.  Rear-end collisions are a common cause of whiplash injuries.

Whiplash injuries get a bad reputation from doubters who assume that the condition is regularly exaggerated.  According to the National Safety Council, neck sprains and strains, the most common form of whiplash injury, account for 10 percent of car accidents in which long term disability results.  The face, head, and knee are the only other body parts that are more susceptible to injury in an automobile accident.

The term whiplash comes from the quick, violent jerk sustained to the neck in a car wreck.  Similar to the movement of a bull whip that is extended then pulled quickly back, whiplash injuries involve the sudden forward thrust of the body, while the head snaps backwards and then comes forward until the chin makes contact with the chest, stopping the motion.  A hit to the automobile from behind is the most common cause, although front and side collisions can also produce whiplash injuries.  Any motion that causes the hyperextension of the neck past the normal range can cause damage to the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue.

The symptoms of whiplash can vary greatly.  Among them are:

  • Pain in the muscles and ligaments
  • Tearing and bleeding of the neck's soft tissues
  • Herniated cervical spine disks
  • Spinal vertebrae out of alignment
  • Neck strain causing pain and stiffness
  • Muscle spasms, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision

Whiplash symptoms can intensify for several days after the accident.  The pain can radiate to the back of the head, shoulders and upper arms, as well as the chest muscles.  Whiplash patients can also feel hoarseness and increased difficulty turning the head side to side.

Bed rest and over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to treat very mild forms of whiplash.  For more serious injuries, including those where continual neck pain and muscle spasms occur can require the use of a cervical (neck) collar.  Patients are often advised to wear the collar off and on to prevent dependence as the muscles heal.  Time off work and away from physical activities is advised as well.

Some self-led physical therapy exercises as advised by a doctor can help recovery in patients with whiplash symptoms that are not severe.  More serious whiplash cases can require the care of a licensed physical therapist several times each week.  Overall recovery depends greatly on the quick evaluation of the injury by a doctor.  Unfortunately, whiplash can have lasting health effects.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider immediately.  Whiplash can cause lasting complications to your health and well-being.  If you were injured and would like more information, download a free copy of the resource guide 10 Essential Steps You Must Take To Protect Your Injury Claim.  Contact Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys to schedule a free consultation.

James Roswold
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James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.