Whiplash symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after an accident, but in some cases they don’t show up for several days, weeks, or even months. Many whiplash cases heal within three months, but some people continue to suffer pain for more than a year. Always see a doctor if you have neck pain following an accident.
Whiplash is a neck injury that can lead to severe and sometimes long-lasting pain. It is caused by an impact that “whips” your head violently forward and backward, similar to the cracking of a whip. This sudden movement puts stress on your neck, potentially injuring muscles, ligaments, tissues, and even the bones and disks in your spine. Whiplash is often associated with rear end collisions, but it can happen in any car accident or because of an assault or sports injury.
How do I know if I have whiplash?
A doctor can examine you and tell you whether you have whiplash. A doctor will typically check for swelling, pain and a reduced range of motion in your neck and shoulders. Your doctor may also order x-rays or other tests to rule out broken bones or other types of injuries.
Before you go to the doctor, there are several symptoms that can give you a clue that you might have whiplash:
- Sore or tight muscles in your neck and shoulders
- Pain when you move your neck
- A more limited range of motion than usual in your neck
- Headaches and dizziness
- Numbness and tingling in your arms
Some people have other symptoms, including ringing in their ears, blurry vision, difficulty sleeping, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
What should I do for whiplash?
The first rule after any accident is to see a doctor right away. If you saw a doctor right after your accident and they didn’t diagnose whiplash, you should go back if you develop whiplash symptoms later on. Whiplash can lead to months of pain, and the sooner you begin treatment, the better your chance for a quick recovery.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions, but there is some general advice that may help you while you are waiting for your appointment:
- Take over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Your doctor may prescribe additional medication if your pain is severe.
- Use ice or heat for about 15 minutes, several times a day. Ice is usually recommended in the first couple of days after an injury. After that, use heat.
- Avoid wearing a neck brace for long periods. Neck brace use can weaken the muscles in your neck, making it harder for you to recover.
- Do the exercises your doctor recommends. These may include stretching exercises to improve your range of motion. Your doctor may also send you to physical therapy.
You should also see a whiplash injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can tell you whether you can make a claim and recover money for your medical expenses, damage to your car, time lost from work, and other damages.
How can a lawyer help me if I have whiplash?
There are two things about whiplash that make it especially important to have a lawyer helping you with your claim. First, whiplash isn’t visible from the outside—there are no cuts, bruises or burns to show that you have been injured. Second, whiplash doesn’t show up immediately, and sometimes it is weeks before you notice any symptoms. These two factors make it easy for insurance companies to claim that you are making up or exaggerating your injuries, or that they were caused by something other than the accident. Whiplash victims often have a hard time getting a fair payment from the insurance company.
Car accident law firms in Atlanta know how insurance companies operate. Lawyers know the kind of evidence they need to collect to show the insurance company that you have a serious, painful injury that was caused by the accident. They know how to drive a hard bargain with the insurance company to get you ALL the money you are legally entitled to.
Talk to an Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer for Free
Our lawyers have spent decades helping accident victims get the money they need to pay for their injuries and get their lives on track. We won’t charge you a fee unless we get money for you. Let us give you a FREE, no-obligation consultation to talk about your accident and answer your questions. Call us at (404) 341-6555 or fill out the form to the right to get your free consultation today.