A forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement can cause a whiplash injury to your neck or body. Whiplash can be caused by sports accidents, physical abuse, falls, and other types of trauma. However, whiplash injuries often result from car accidents like rear-end collisions.
Whiplash can injure the bones in your spine and the disks between those bones, as well as your ligaments, nerves, and other soft tissues.
Some whiplash victims get better after a few weeks of rest, exercise, and taking pain medication. Others may suffer chronic pain and long-lasting injuries.
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How Is Your Neck Structured?
Your cervical spine is the part of your spine located in your neck and comprises seven vertebrae. They are often referred to as C1 to C7. Facet joints connect these seven cervical vertebrae, which allow you to move your head forward and backward and twist your neck.
Between your seven cervical vertebrae are disks acting as shock absorbers. Your neck also comprises ligaments, tendons, nerves, and muscles. Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerve tissues that runs through these seven vertebrae and down the entire length of your spine, sending and receiving messages from your brain. Any damage to your spinal cord can impact your ability to move and function.
Your neck has several major muscles that attach to your cervical spine, including:
- Sternocleidomastoid: This muscle is located on both sides of your neck, running from behind your ear to the front of your neck and attaching to your collarbone and sternum. It makes it possible for you to rotate and tilt your head.
- Trapezius: These triangular-shaped muscles run from the base of your skull down to your shoulder blades and help you tilt your head, move your neck, and lift your shoulder blades.
- Suboccipital muscles: You have four pairs of these muscles connecting your cervical spine to your skull, helping you rotate and extend your head.
- Deep cervical flexors: These muscles allow you to flex your neck and stabilize your spine.
- Levator scapulae: This muscle helps you lift your shoulder blades and bend your head from side to side. It is attached to your first four cervical vertebrae and the top of your shoulder blade.
- Erector spinae: This is a muscle group in your cervical spine area that helps with your posture and the rotation and extension of your neck.
These muscles play vital roles in your ability to perform basic daily functions. A whiplash injury to any of them can seriously limit your mobility and cause tremendous pain.
What Are the Common Symptoms of Whiplash?
If you suffer a whiplash injury, you will likely develop signs and symptoms within a few days.
Some of the most common symptoms of whiplash include:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Loss of range of motion in your neck or upper back
- Tingling or pain in your arms, upper back, or shoulders
- Blurred vision
- Tenderness or pain in your arms, upper back, shoulders, or neck
- Pain that is worse when you move your neck, shoulders, or arms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
It is essential that you get checked out by a doctor if you have any whiplash symptoms after an accident. Seeing a doctor soon after an accident is critical to your health and to protecting your right to seek compensation for your injuries. After seeking medical attention, your next call should be to an experienced personal injury attorney to receive a free consultation and case evaluation.
Herniated Disks After an Accident
A herniated cervical disk is a common cause of neck and upper back pain. You have disks between each of your vertebrae comprising a firm outer casing with a gel-like matter in its center. The gel-like substance can ooze out if the out casing tears or is worn down.
When this happens, it is often called a “herniated” or “ruptured” disk. Car accidents or any sudden, jarring motion to your neck can cause a herniated disk.
Symptoms of a herniated cervical disk include:
- Weakness in your arm or hand
- Tingling or numbness in your arm or shoulder
- Stumbling or walking awkwardly
- Problems with fine motor skills
- Loss of balance and lack of coordination
- A tingling or jolt that runs down your legs
A herniated disk can have a heavy impact on your quality of life. You should seek medical attention for symptoms to get an accurate diagnosis and adequately care for your injuries.
Fractured Vertebrae After an Accident
The sudden stress from whiplash can cause a fracture to your vertebrae, resulting in life-altering injuries. Your spinal cord runs through a canal attached to your vertebrae. If a vertebra fractures, it can enter the spinal canal and cause a spinal cord injury, resulting in paralysis or even death.
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of fractured vertebrae. This type of injury requires immediate emergency treatment to stabilize your neck and reduce the risk of paralysis or death. You may require surgery to repair a fractured vertebra and will likely need months of medical treatment and physical therapy.
Concussions After an Accident
An accident that causes whiplash can also cause a concussion due to the sudden force to the head and neck. A concussion can result from the pressure on your brain when it moves inside your skull during an accident.
Concussions are a type of brain injury that creates chemical changes in the brain and sometimes damages brain cells. Concussions are often called “mild” brain injuries because they are not usually fatal. However, a concussion can result in serious damage.
Common symptoms of a concussion include:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing ears
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Delayed responses
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Personality changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Taste and smell disorders
If you experience any symptoms of a concussion, you should seek immediate medical attention. While most people fully recover after a concussion, you should never take a chance if you suspect a brain injury.
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Whiplash Injury?
If someone else’s negligence caused your whiplash injury, you may be able to recover compensation. You could be entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those related to your lost wages, medical expenses, and other out-of-pocket expenses caused by your accident. Non-economic damages may be awarded for your pain and suffering, mobility loss, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The type and amount of compensation you may recover depend mainly upon the types and extent of your injuries. Discussing your case with an experienced personal injury attorney who can answer your questions and help protect your right to recover damages is essential.
Contact a Lexington Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Pursuing Compensation For Your Whiplash Injuries
If you have suffered a whiplash injury caused by another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages. You need to have your case evaluated by an experienced Lexington personal injury attorney to discuss the compensation you may be entitled to. Contact Minner Vines Moncus Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation, you can call us at (859) 550-2900.