v Over 3 million new whiplash injuries reported each year (many are unreported)
v 35-50% of these victims will suffer chronic pain
v Severity and symptoms vary dramatically from person to person even inside the same car
Common Symptoms of Whiplash
v Neck pain
v Radiation of pain, tingling or numbness into the arms
v Memory issues
v Concentration problems
v Vision complaints
v Trouble sleeping
v Increased anxiety
v Altered Moods
I was in a car accident now what should I do?
If you have been injured in a car
accident(collision) and are experiencing neck pain, back pain, headaches, or
other pain such as jaw pain you should seek immediate care to have your
condition evaluated and begin treatment . The sooner you receive a proper
diagnosis and treatment, the sooner the healing can begin. The symptoms people
experience can be extensive and you may require diagnostic tests such as x-rays
and possibly an
The most common injury in a motor vehicle accident (collision) is Whiplash. Whiplash is the common name of an injured neck resulting from a car accident. A medical description of this injury is called a cervical (neck) acceleration-deceleration injury. This describes how your neck is injured. The injury involves whipping your head in one direction, and then it quickly recoils in the opposite direction. This can occur when one vehicle strikes another or even when one vehicle comes to an abrupt stop, such as hitting a solid object. Another common term is neck sprain or a neck strain.
Whiplash – Tissues Injured
This injury of your neck can involve many structures including muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. The violent whipping action which occurs during an accident can tear these tissues. A strain occurs when the muscle is torn, and a sprain occurs when the ligaments are torn. The tearing of the blood vessels small and large will cause the initial swelling and stiffness in the neck. The nerves may be stretched, or in severe cases the nerves can also be torn. When nerves get injured you may experience a tingling, numbness, or severe intense pain. All of these injured tissues can cause pain, but often it is an impact and stretching injury to the joints of the spine that can cause the majority of your pain.
Whiplash & MTBI
Most people think of the typical neck pain that is associated with whiplash. However, what most people don’t realize is that there are additional symptoms which can include headaches, memory loss, concentration issues, short term memory loss, nausea, and dizziness. These symptoms are usually due to the contra-coup injury to the brain. This often results in a concussion. Sometimes a loss of consciousness occurs. This type of brain injury can also lead to a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), or post-concussion syndrome. Concussions and MTBI have been in the national and local news over the last few years because of injuries sustained during sporting events. The general public is beginning to realize that these are real and often life altering injures. These are the same type of injuries that occur in motor vehicle accidents, however people injured in car accidents aren’t athletes and aren’t expecting the impact.
Whiplash Associated Disorders
Other common complaints from a motor vehicle accident include bruises (contusions) or shoulder pain, which may be due to bruising, however it is also common to tear muscles and ligaments of the shoulder. This is referred to as a rotator cuff injury. Other sprain/strains also occur in the jaw as well as the knees. Knee pain may also occur which usually is a sign of cartilage or ligament damage due to the knees impacting the dashboard. Another common injury is damage to the discs in the spine. These are the shock absorbers of the spine and when these are injured they can cause immediate pain by pressing on the nerves and on the spinal cord. However, often these injuries take time to develop, resulting in chronic nerve pain as well as leading to arthritis (degenerative disc/joint disease). Arthritis is commonly seen in patients who were involved in a motor vehicle accident years ago.
Whiplash – Recovery and Whiplash Treatment
As with most injuries, obtaining treatment in the initial weeks and months are the most important to establish proper healing. The goal is to minimize the scar tissue and allow the present scar tissue to be laid in an optimum position. Once the initial acute phase is over, it is very important to address the tissue and joints properly to enhance healing while trying to minimize the chronic pain that is often seen in whiplash injuries. This may involve massage therapy to release the muscle spasms, mobilization of “stuck joints” to help restore normal motion, and stretches and exercises specific for your condition to help loosen up and strengthen your neck. This will help to minimize the chronic pain as well. Often patients will come in years after an accident and indicate that they did not have any treatment. They simply took medication and waited for the pain to go away. However, they have had consistent or worsening neck pain over the years. This is a very typical scenario and by this time the patient has developed moderate arthritis, so the treatment is geared toward minimizing the advancement of the arthritis instead of trying to prevent it.
In most cases you have insurance that will cover your treatment including the emergency room, diagnostic testing, chiropractic and massage. Washington state law mandates that every insured driver is offered personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. You can refuse the coverage but you must sign a release form documenting your refusal of coverage. The WA state insurance commissioner web site has useful information regarding your insurance options and what to do in case of an accident.
We will work with your (PIP) insurance plan . We will verify coverage and file the claim. These insurance plans include State Farm, Allstate, Geico, Progressive, Farmers, American Family, Pemco, National, Safeco, Dairyland, Financial Indemnity, Guaranty National, Infinity, Leader, and Nationwide.
Car tip is to raise your head restraint up if it is not already raised. This reduces the ramping effect of your head during a rear-end collision which could reduce the “whiplash” effect.
When you are in a car accident make sure you take your time to assess any injuries to you or anyone else involved. Pay attention to symptoms such as pain or dizziness and make sure you tell the emergency personnel about all of your symptoms.
Often people pay more attention to their car such as quickly contacting an auto body repair or auto collision center before they assess themselves. I would suggest taking care of yourself first but remember if your car needs work more than likely so do you.