Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues and muscular tissues in the region of the neck. It is also the most common bus accident injury. Whiplash typically occurs when someone is in a vehicle that gets rear-ended by another vehicle. It is important to note that whiplash can occur even when the head is resting against the headrest of the seat. The sudden impact of the vehicles colliding cause the head and neck to move foreward and backward with a harsh jarring movement, which causes the tendons, muscles and ligaments to over-flex beyond their normal flexibility, resulting in injury.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
The majority of whiplash injuries are minor and will typically heal within a few weeks following the accident. However, a whiplash injury can also cause serious complications and long-term side effects that require lengthy medical treatments. A common complication of whiplash is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ). Symptoms of TMJ include locking of the jaw, pain while chewing, speech problems and pain that extends from the ear to the temple. TMJ can sometimes be treated with cold and heat therapy, laser therapy, ultrasound and/or medications. However, in severe cases, surgery is required to remove the damaged tissue or scarring and to repair chips in the joint.
Symptoms of Whiplash
The symptoms of whiplash typically include a pain in the top area of the back, just below the base of your neck. You may also experience pain in the shoulder and/or numbness, burning or tingling sensations. Other symptoms of whiplash may include:
- Stiff neck
- Stiff back
- Radiating pain from the neck to the shoulders and/or arms
- Difficulty swallowing
The symptoms of whiplash may occur immediately or it may be a day or two before you notice the symptoms and the pain can persist for several hours to several months, depending on the severity of the injury. If the collision is extreme, there can be serious damage to the spine and/or vertebrae, including fractures and/or a ruptured disc.
Treatment for whiplash
The recommended treatment varies depending on the severity of the whiplash injury. For mild cases, the injuries are often treated with heat/cold therapy, pain medications, laser treatments and/or chiropractic care. A neck brace may be required to provide immobility to the neck to allow for correct healing and to prevent further damage of the neck and/or spine. An x-ray, MRI or CT scan will typically be done to determine the extent of your whiplash. In some situations paralysis may occur, especially if the whiplash is left untreated. Serious whiplash injuries may require surgical intervention to repair damages to the spine.
If you have been in an accident and suspect a whiplash injury, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible, as it may prevent more serious complications that can arise from this type of injury. Whiplash is an unpleasant and painful condition that may require years of therapy, surgeries and medical treatments to repair. All of these treatments can be expensive and the injuries can interfere with daily activities, including work, school and time with family. After you have sought medical attention, it is important to contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer from our firm to discuss your case.