Drivers and passengers involved in car accidents are at a high risk of suffering from severe injuries, including whiplash. Whiplash is one of the most commonly reported injuries after motor vehicle accidents since the force of impact on the vehicle will often throw the occupants back and forth or side-to-side violently.
While most people are aware of what whiplash is, many ask the question, “Is whiplash a neck injury or a brain injury?”
What is Whiplash?
Whiplash occurs when the head and neck violently move backward and forward, placing stress on the neck and spine. Medical professionals gave the injury this name due to the movement involved, which imitates the cracking of a whip.
After an accident, you might be unsure whether whiplash is a neck or brain injury. While whiplash is an injury affecting the neck, studies have shown that individuals suffering from whiplash are more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injuries can occur without direct contact with the head. A neck injury, like whiplash, can lead to a brain injury.
How Do Doctors Know if It’s Whiplash?
To know whether you have a whiplash injury, your physician must diagnose your condition correctly.
First, your doctor will examine your neck and head and ask you to do specific movements to test your range of motion.
While a whiplash injury will not show up on imaging tests, your doctor will likely order one to determine whether your injury can be attributed to whiplash or some other, more severe issue. Imaging tests might include:
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan— CT scans allow doctors to see bones, blood vessels, and soft tissue. Many physicians prefer CT scans over X-rays because they show much more than an X-ray.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) -— MRIs provide the most detailed imaging, letting doctors view the entire neck and spine.
- X-Rays— An X-ray can help a doctor see any fractures or broken bones.
Performing these examinations and tests can provide doctors with extensive information about your condition. An accurate diagnosis will allow the doctor to recommend the best possible treatment plan, getting you on the road to recovery much quicker.
Always be sure to follow all the instructions and recommendations provided by your doctor. Your doctor should document the details of your diagnosis and care in your medical records. Should you need to seek compensation for an accident resulting in whiplash, these records can help build a significantly stronger case.
Common Symptoms of Whiplash
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury, the symptoms might include:
- Blurred vision
- Issues with memory
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Neck pain
- Neck stiffness
- Ringing in the ears
- Tenderness in the neck
Symptoms can range in severity and may take several hours to days to develop. If symptoms worsen, it is best to seek medical attention immediately. Learn more about the symptoms of whiplash from Johns Hopkins.
Complications of Whiplash Injuries
While the symptoms of whiplash can be extensive, they are usually treatable. However, a whiplash injury can result in complications in some special circumstances. These complications can lead to worse symptoms, including:
- Chronic pain
- More significant limited range of motion in the neck
- Pain that spreads to the arm
- Problems with balance
- Tingling or numbness radiating down to the arms or hands
Certain factors make you more susceptible to complications after whiplash. These include:
- Existing neck and back pain/injuries
- Older age
- Prior whiplash injuries
If you suffered a whiplash injury and your symptoms do not improve after a few weeks or worsen suddenly, be sure to seek medical help as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
Treatment for Whiplash
Treatment for whiplash can help you get back to everyday activities by limiting pain and regaining motion in the neck. The type of treatment will usually depend on the seriousness of the injury and accompanying symptoms.
Treatment for whiplash can include:
- Foam collars —Your doctor may instruct you to wear a cervical collar for some time to hold the neck still, promoting healing. Foam collars can also reduce pain and help you sleep.
- Pain Management — Pain management is usually accomplished with multiple components, including rest, over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, and muscle relaxants.
- Physical therapy and exercise —Going to physical therapy and performing specific exercises can help regain your range of motion after a neck injury. A physical therapist can create a custom plan for you and guide you through the exercises.
It is essential to follow through with the treatment plan your doctor recommends. Not only might treatment help you recover faster, but it is also crucial to any personal injury claim you might need to file. Failing to complete treatment could harm your case. Learn more about whiplash injuries and treatment from the Mayo Clinic website.
Consult with a Knowledgeable Whiplash Attorney in New York
If you’ve sustained a whiplash injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced New York City car accident lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C. today. We have extensive experience helping those who’ve suffered whiplash in New York and Long Island accidents. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.