Top 10 Facts to Know About Whiplash in the United States
Whiplash is the most common and well-known injury reported in car accidents across the United States, and yet it is still one of the least understood. The dizzying array of potential symptoms can make charting your path to recovery a serious challenge. Advances in the understanding of this complex disorder have upended traditional methods of treatment. If you have been injured in a car accident and suffer from whiplash, here are the top 10 things you should know:
#10 How Whiplash Really Happens
When the upper body, head, and neck are subjected to a violent back and forth motion muscles, ligaments, and even vertebrae can become injured. This type of injury can lead to wide-ranging symptoms from mild discomfort to chronic, potentially debilitating pain. The medical term for the collective symptoms stemming from an injury of this nature is whiplash-associative disorder.
To date, the most common way to get whiplash is from a car accident. The violent impact lurches the body suddenly and whips the head to-and-fro. However, car accidents are far from the only way to suffer a whiplash injury. You can also get it from taking a hard tumble while skiing, horseback riding, or even a particularly nasty slip-and-fall. Other common ways to get whiplash include contact sports, roller coasters, and, in extremely rare instances, even a particularly violent sneeze.
#9 Symptoms of Whiplash
One of the chief problems in diagnosing and treating whiplash is the unusually diverse list of potential symptoms. The accident can cause pain and soreness in the neck and shoulders that may slowly build in intensity over days or even weeks. Stiffness in the spine and a reduced range of movement is common. Whiplash can strain or even tear muscles and ligaments resulting in pain and weakness. Headaches, dizziness, and problems with balance can persist. Numbness, tingling, burning, and other uncomfortable sensations in the arms, hands, and shoulders are possible. A considerable number of whiplash victims report cognitive and psychological conditions resulting in memory loss, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and difficulty focusing.
If this partial list of symptoms seems extensive to you, you’re not the only one. The medical community remains hard pressed to explain the direct connection between whiplash and some of these symptoms. This is a why negotiating a settlement for a whiplash injury can be more complex than other types of injuries. A car accident attorney who specializes in litigating whiplash claims will prove invaluable when it comes to collecting the best evidence to support your claim.
#8 More Than Just Rear-End Accidents
Rear-end car accidents typically feature a combination of factors which concoct a perfect storm for whiplash to occur. When someone is rear-ended, they often do not see the accident coming and so are unable to brace themselves in anticipation of the blow. The angle of impact from directly behind plays into the range of motion of the neck allowing the force to have the maximum whiplash effect to the head. However, whiplash is by no means exclusive to rear-end accidents alone.
Head-on collisions, for example, while usually seen in time for the driver to brace themselves, often give rise to whiplash as well. The angle of the force from the impact similarly lines up with the range of motion for the neck, resulting in a more dramatic whipping effect to the head. Facts are that almost any accident featuring a hard-enough jarring impact can result in a whiplash injury of varying degrees.
#7 Low Speed Car Accidents Can Still Cause Whiplash
A serious case of whiplash can occur at surprisingly low speeds. While the average speed of an accident that can cause whiplash is 12-mph, speeds as low 5-mph can also routinely result in a case of whiplash. The reasons why have to do with the physics of automobile crashes. When a vehicle traveling at 8-mph collides with a car that is not moving the force of the impact transfers to the body of the victim in a split second. The sudden jarring motion to the body leaves the head to snap back and forth with up to 5 G-force of acceleration. This violent force happens in the blink of an eye, causing damage before the victim can even react.
#6 Women and People Over 30 at Increased Risk
Due to less musculature support in the neck and shoulder region, women are at a significantly higher risk of suffering from whiplash than men. A recent report from Sweden concluded that contributing to this disparity is that women tend to own lighter, smaller cars and sit more upright and closer to the steering wheel.
After the age of thirty, changes begin to affect the flexibility in our joints, cartilage, and vertebrae. This loss of flexibility leaves us more prone to injury when something traumatic occurs. A whiplash injury is not only more likely after the age of thirty, when it does happen it is more severe in nature. These progressive changes only increase with each passing year.
#5 Neck Collars Can Actually Hurt Recovery
Until recently, the neck-collar was a mainstay of medical treatment for whiplash. Modern studies have cast doubt on the effectiveness of this practice though. Excessive use can even produce a negative effect on your recovery and increase your chances of developing chronic side-effects. At one time, a doctor may have recommended that you use the collar for weeks or more. Today that recommendation is down to just 2-3 days maximum, if at all.
The new medical motto regarding whiplash is ‘rest equals rust.’ Immobilizing the neck muscles decreases strength and interfere with your body’s natural recovery process. Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment can help restore range of movement, alleviate pain, and get you back on your feet faster.
#4 Whiplash Can Be Invisible to X-Rays and MRIs
X-rays can be quite revealing when it comes to dislocations, fractures or other injuries to the bone or spine structure. Soft tissue injuries are simply not as identifiable using this type of imaging, including most whiplash related injuries. That is not to say x-rays are useless. They can be a vital tool to both doctors and lawyers to help eliminate possible causes of specific symptoms.
MRI scans can detect a limited number of soft tissue injuries, primarily those involving the spinal cord, disks, or ligaments. A new advanced MRI technique developed in the last decade studies the fat to water ratio in the muscles in the neck area. Abnormal muscles changes especially an infiltration of fat is an indicator that they will be at elevated risk to develop chronic pain or partial disability.
#3 High Chance of Developing Chronic Symptoms
Regrettably, the risk of developing chronic symptoms with whiplash is high when compared to other injuries. In close to half of all whiplash cases the patient will still be experiencing chronic pain 20 years later. Difficulty in clearly identifying the relationship between the injury and some long-term symptoms can makes treatment a challenge. The hope is that if we can find those at high-risk for chronic symptoms earlier that research coupled with more aggressive treatment plans can help bring the number of chronic sufferers down. Although currently the treatment for those suffering chronic pain from whiplash have proved to have limited effectiveness.
#2 Chiropractic Treatment for Whiplash in the United States
Chiropractic treatment is widely regarded as one of the most effective strategies for treatment of whiplash. Some chiropractors even specialize specifically in treating those suffering from whiplash. Through a personalized treatment plan your chiropractor will use a variety of techniques to help restore range of movement, reduce pain, and get you back on your feet again.
Targeted stretching of muscles and ligaments helps relieve tightness. Manipulation of the spine or joints with a chiropractic adjustment can help return range of movement. Finger pressure applied to trigger points reduces pain. McKenzie exercises are a regimen learned during office visits designed for use at home to help build strength and flexibility. Specialty isolation exercises correct faulty movement in daily routines developing healthier patterns. Chiropractors offer vital advice on ergonomic and lifestyle changes to aid in your continued recovery and health.
#1 U.S. Settlements for Whiplash Injuries
Negotiating a settlement for a whiplash injury can be a complex process. Insurance companies often undervalue pain and suffering or may write off whiplash as a minor inconvenience. Your settlement should include a combination of the following:
- All your current medical bills
- Any future medical expenses
- Lost wages from missed work and opportunities
- Pain and suffering
- Compensation for any chronic of permanent damages
- Loss of consortium
Marshallings the evidence to substantiate all aspects of damage caused by a whiplash injury is a vital step toward winning the settlement you deserve. Choosing an experienced car accident lawyer who specializes in representing whiplash victims is the only proven way to fully protect your interests.
The Advocates is one of the top personal injury firms in the entire United States. As a national law firm we have the resources and experience to stand up for your rights against any caliber of insurance company, whether they be large or small. The Advocates have successfully settled thousands cases for whiplash-related injuries and are dedicated not only to your recovery, but to securing every dollar you are owed for damages according to the law. Find out what The Advocates can do for your case. You can contact our office by calling (888) 565-5277, filling out the form below, or chatting with a live attorney from the bottom or your screen. Don’t wait. You deserve an Advocate!