Whiplash occurs when the neck and head are suddenly forced backward and then forward, putting the cervical spine through quick motions and extreme stresses. Whiplash often occurs in rear end car collisions. Whiplash has also been called cervical acceleration-deceleration (CAD) syndrome. The torso (in contact with the seat) continues to accelerate forward but the head (not in contact with the seat yet) does not. As a result, the cervical spine’s natural C-shape (lordosis curve) temporarily becomes an unnatural S-shape. The abnormal compression and shearing forces can potentially damage intervertebral discs, facet joints, ligaments and other neck structures. While the severity of the car crash usually correlates to the severity of the whiplash injury, there are exceptions. Sometimes a car does not crunch up and thus shows no significant outside damage, but the forces that were not absorbed by the car exterior were instead transferred through the seat and thus caused worse whiplash. Whiplash injuries have been recorded in crashes where the speed at impact was less than 10 miles per hour.
Although many people who sustain a whiplash injury can completely recover within 3 months, studies have shown that a significant number of people will have chronic pain or other symptoms that linger longer – sometimes for years. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop within 24 hours of the injury and may include: Neck pain and stiffness, Worsening of pain with neck movement, Loss of range of motion in the neck, Headaches, Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms, Tingling or numbness in the arms, Fatigue, Dizziness, and Concussion. In some extreme cases, symptoms can include Blurred vision, Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), Sleep disturbances, Irritability, Difficulty concentrating, Memory problems and Depression.
If you think you have suffered a whiplash injury in a rear end crash, make sure that you get the proper medical treatment immediately. If you have any questions about your rights after a read end crash, call us at O’Brien Law. We have handled many cases with whiplash injuries, some quite severe. We are here to answer your questions and help you.