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Motor vehicle accidents can result in all types of injuries, both major and minor. A variety of factors – the force of the crash, the age of the passengers, the types of vehicles involves – all determine the severity of injuries to the people involved. Many car accident victims suffer physical trauma like broken bones, head injuries or back pain. One common soft tissue injury that causes many problems is whiplash.

What is a whiplash injury?

Whiplash is another term for a neck sprain or strain, and is one of the most common injuries an individual might experience after a car accident. In a car crash, your body is subjected to many forces at once. Coming to a sudden stop causes the head and neck to rapidly move back and forth, almost like cracking a whip (i.e., whiplash). When this happens, the bones, discs, muscles and tissues in the spine can all suffer injury.

Often, the symptoms of whiplash may not show up immediately, depending on the severity of the accident or injury. However, when they do, the whiplash can be extremely painful. You should always seek medical attention after a traffic accident, whether or not you feel injured at the time, and ensure you follow your doctor’s orders to the letter.

What kinds of car accidents usually cause whiplash?

Of course, whiplash and other soft tissue injuries can happen in any kind of accident, but there are certain kinds of car and truck crashes that are simply more likely to cause neck strains and sprains. For example, the Mayo Clinic states that rear-end collisions are the major cause of whiplash. Here’s why.

If you’re a driver or passenger in a vehicle that’s suddenly and unexpectedly hit from behind, your body will continue traveling forward as your vehicle comes to a stop. Your neck and body will jerk forward and then backward when it stops, and if your vehicle had been traveling at a high speed, this back-and-forth may happen several times, putting more stress and injury on the neck area.

How does a doctor diagnose whiplash? What is the treatment?

Whiplash is a common injury, and medical professionals are usually able to diagnose it via a physical exam. Your doctor may ask you about your symptoms and give you a physical examination to determine the range of motion in your neck and shoulders, as well as your amount of pain and what motions exacerbate it. Typically, soft tissue injuries can’t be seen on x-rays, so if further diagnostic testing is necessary, your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI.

Because whiplash is such a common injury, most doctors follow a similar course of treatment – pain management and physical therapy. The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Heat or cold therapy
  • Muscle relaxants
  • OTC pain medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medications
  • Rest

Even though whiplash is a common injury, it’s still a painful one. A serious case of whiplash can keep you from your normal activities, including work, for weeks or even months. Some people may suffer the side effects of whiplash for the rest of their lives in the form of headaches or chronic pain.

If you were in a car accident that wasn’t your fault and suffered a whiplash injury, the attorneys at Wagner & Wagner, Attorneys at Law can help. We seek compensation on your behalf to ensure your medical bills and lost wages are paid. Call us today at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN, in North Georgia, and all surrounding counties.