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Whiplash Caused By A Car Accident – Is This Your Only Injury?

Injured car accident victim suffering from whiplash
Often, car accident victims can experience whiplash in addition to more serious injuries to the brain or spine.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 12,186 serious injury crashes in 2018 with 14,937 people sustaining a serious injury.

While these injuries take on many forms, those associated with the neck and back are typically among the most common.

Whiplash is a common, yet serious, injury that often results from a car accident.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines whiplash as follows:

Whiplash-a soft tissue injury to the neck-is also called neck sprain or neck strain. It is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck, usually because of sudden extension and flexion. The disorder commonly occurs as the result of an automobile accident and may include injury to intervertebral joints, discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots.

There are a variety of symptoms associated with whiplash, typically including:

  • Neck pain 
  • Lower back pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Neck stiffness
  • Dizziness 
  • Pain that radiates into your arm and/or hand 
  • Ringing in your ears

 

Note: Sometimes these symptoms present immediately after impact. Other times, you may not experience symptoms for several hours (or even longer) after the accident. This is why it’s so important to obtain medical treatment quickly. 

Is whiplash a big deal after a car accident?

The short answer is yes. This is a serious soft tissue injury that has the potential to cause pain and discomfort for an extended period of time.

Furthermore, if not treated in the appropriate manner, your symptoms have the potential to linger for the rest of your life.

On the plus side, the typical recovery for whiplash is generally good. The pain typically goes away within a few weeks (at the most). Total recovery time is usually in the two to three month range, although residual pain and discomfort are possible.

Tip: Your doctor can provide guidance on how to speed up the recovery process, such as through physical therapy.

Could it be something else other than whiplash?

Imagine this: You’re sitting at a traffic light when another vehicle slams into you from behind. Your neck snaps forward and back and pain immediately sets in.

You assume that you have whiplash and decide that it’s best to go home, rest, and treat it on your own.

This is a mistake for two reasons:

  • You may not treat your injury in the appropriate way, thus putting your long-term health and well-being at risk.
  • You may be suffering from another more serious injury, such as a brain injury (TBI).

 

There’s always a chance that you could mistake whiplash for a more serious injury, such as:

  • Herniated disc: Also known as a ruptured or slipped disc, this can occur in your neck or any part of your spine. This injury often occurs as the result of a sudden impact, such as in a car accident. 
  • Spinal cord injury: This is one of the most significant injuries you could suffer in a car crash. It can result in serious symptoms such as paralysis and permanent or temporary loss of sensation in your limbs. 

 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Also known as TBI, these brain injuries take on many forms. Some of the most common include skull fractures and bleeding in the brain. These injuries, if not treated properly and in a timely manner, can cause long-term brain damage and even death.

How do you know if it’s whiplash or something else? Our expert team can help

Injured car accident victim receiving medical treatment for whiplash.
Obtaining medical attention immediately after a car accident can help you determine if your injuries extend beyond whiplash.

Don’t attempt to diagnose and treat yourself, as you could make a serious error that causes you unnecessary harm. 

The only way to know what type of injuries you have after a car accident is to seek treatment from a qualified medical professional.

So, immediately after a car accident – even if you’re feeling okay – visit your local Corpus Christi hospital or urgent care center for a comprehensive medical exam. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Your medical team can run a variety of tests to pinpoint any car accident injuries and their severity. Maybe you assume that you have whiplash, but after several imaging tests, your doctor finds that you actually have a herniated disc or fractured neck.

It’s critical that you understand your injuries, treatment plan, and long-term recovery outcome. 

As time allows, revisit the cause of your accident, review the police report, and begin the insurance claims process.

Throughout this complicated process, it’s best to consult with an experienced Corpus Christi personal injury attorney. This saves you from having to do all the “heavy lifting” so you can focus on your physical recovery.

You can rely on the three generations of Corpus Christi injury attorneys at The Burkett Law Firm and their professional legal and medical team to answer your questions and fight to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries, whether they include whiplash or something more serious. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation.