If you were involved in a rear-end or T-bone car accident, you might have suffered whiplash injuries. In many cases, victims of these injuries do not realize it, and neglect to seek medical evaluation immediately after the crash. Whiplash injuries result from the rapid forward, backward and sideways movements of a person’s head at impact in a collision.
Some people are fortunate to suffer only minor discomfort that resolves on its own within a few days. However, signs of whiplash injuries do not always manifest immediately. They could take hours or days to become evident, and sometimes can involve severe pain that could be chronic. You might even experience emotional and cognitive problems.
Various symptoms may seem like minor aches and pains, but if they are present after a car accident, they might indicate whiplash injuries. Here are some things of which to take note and seek medical care if they are present:
- Neck pain — While neck injuries from whiplash typically involve ligament and muscle sprains and strains, pain could result from joint, nerve, disc or bone injuries.
- Neck stiffness — Whiplash injuries can limit the range of neck movement, which may be due to pain, muscle tightening or a mechanical neck joint problem.
- Headache — If the injury causes irritation of a muscle, nerve or joint in the cervical spine, headaches could follow.
- Neck instability — While tissues that are torn or stretched can cause this symptom; it could also be the result of a fracture.
- Upper back and shoulder pain— When the ligaments or muscles in your neck are strained or torn during the rapid head movement of a whiplash incident, the pain can radiate to soft tissues in your shoulders and upper back.
- Numbness, weakness, tingling and radiating — The spinal nerve ends in your neck can become compressed, and this can lead to inflamed nerve roots. If that happens, you might experience these symptoms from your shoulder, down your arm and into your hand and fingers. This is called cervical radiculopathy, and it typically — but not always — affects only one side of the victim’s body.
Any or all of the above symptoms can cause several disorders. These include concussion or brain damage, which in turn could cause tinnitus — a constant buzzing or ringing in the ears. Pain, stress and concussion after a whiplash injury can prevent you from getting good sleep, and you might feel fatigued and a significant drop in energy. Furthermore, you may find it difficult to concentrate and have memory problems. Whiplash injuries can even affect your ability to chew, swallow and speak if your jaw muscles were injured.
These symptoms and disorders can be present immediately after an accident, or they can manifest over time. For that reason, a medical evaluation immediately after an accident may reveal any potential problems. This will serve you well if you do develop problems that bring about medical expenses because you might want to recover those damages by filing a personal injury claim. If the accident that led to your injuries was a result of the negligence of another party, you might pursue financial relief by filing a lawsuit in a Pennsylvania civil court.