Whiplash is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident and the associated neck pain may not be felt immediately. In this article, personal injury lawyer, Jeffrey Meldon, explains: what whiplash is, what causes it, what the symptoms are, and how it can be prevented.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash, also called cervical strain and sprain, is a common musculoskeletal injury caused by the stretching and tearing of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck during trauma, such as a car crash or a rear-end collision. Swelling, bleeding, and general inflammation may occur in the neck after an accident. Generally, pain associated with whiplash is not caused by an injury to spinal disks but rather by over-extension of soft tissues. Whiplash is the most common injury from a motor vehicle accident and the symptoms can linger for many months.
What causes it?
Whiplash can be caused by: a motor vehicle accident, an assault, a sporting activity, riding a roller coaster, or even as a result of “shaken baby syndrome” in child abuse cases. The most common cause of whiplash is a car accident. Whiplash can even happen driving at speeds as low as 5 to 8 mph, regardless of whether someone wears their seat belt.
Greater injury can occur if a person’s head is turned at the time of impact or if they are surprised and unprepared for the collision. A history of neck injury may also contribute to increased whiplash pain. The amount of pain a person suffers after an accident is complicated by that individual’s susceptibility to injury-which can be difficult to predict.
How does it happen?
A typical whiplash injury in car accident happens like this:
1. After a car is impacted, an occupant’s trunk and shoulders travel forward as the car seat accelerates forward.
2. The occupant’s head remains fixed in space for a few milliseconds. The neck elongates and flexes like a rubber band, as the trunk moves forward.
3. Finally, the head accelerates to “catch up” with the trunk. The neck acts as a lever, “whipping” the head forward.
What are the Symptoms?
If you think you may have whiplash injury, consult a doctor immediately, and seek treatment ASAP. While symptoms may not show up right away after a crash, here are some typical symptoms of whiplash:
- Neck pain;
- Tenderness and swelling in the neck area;
- Stiffness and difficulty moving;
- Shooting pain in the arms or shoulders;
- Tingling or numbness in hand or fingers.
How can I prevent whiplash?
I recommend you always wear your seat belt and adjust your headrest to the proper height to cushion any possible head trauma. While whiplash can occur regardless of whether you wear your seat belt, proper safety belt use reduces the risk of death and other serious injury, (and is also the law in Florida). At this time, it’s unknown whether air bags prevent whiplash.
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I am local accident attorney Jeffrey Meldon and I strongly believe that public education is the first step in the prevention of and/or recovery from a serious accident. My office and I take pride in our work, and the results we get for our clients.
Meldon Law is a regional law firm that is located in Gainesville, Florida. We are personal injury lawyers, litigators and trial lawyers that have been working to get accident victims the justice they deserve for over 40 years throughout North Florida and all over Florida. Accidents involving a car crash, truck wreck, motorcycle, ATVs, bicycle, pedestrian accidents, and dog bites, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and criminal defense are all included in our practice.
For more information on how we can help you, or with any other question you may have, feel free to contact our office at 800-373-8000.