A whiplash injury occurs when the neck is thrust forward and backward in a violent whip-like motion leading to overstretching and eventual tearing of the its muscles and ligaments. It is the most common reported injury in United States insurance claims. Unfortunately, some people still choose to ignore whiplash often dismissing it as a self-repairing injury.
Due to the Adrenalin rush, you may fail to notice any pain right after the accident. Because whiplash is a tissue injury, it may also fail to get detected by an MRI, CT scan or an X-ray. Some insurance companies will usually claim that whiplash injuries are not real or aren’t as serious. But although the symptoms may take a while before manifesting themselves, an untreated whiplash injury can cause you major complications later on in life. They may include the following:
- Chronic neck pain – when left untreated, whiplash can lead to chronic neck pains. Having to live with this pain daily will affect your productivity in the workplace significantly and make it harder for you to excel in your academics. Taking care of your family and managing the household will also become a challenge. The pain will even rob you of something as basic as a good night sleep.
- Reduced motion and stiffness – because moving your neck will cause you excruciating pain, you will do it less often. Although this will help decrease the pain, the reduced motion will lead to stiffness and could limit the range of your neck movement. It can also result in improper muscle healing.
- Vertigo – the injury can impinge neck synapses responsible for communicating with the brain causing you to experience vertigo (a sensation of falling or spinning) or dizziness. Vertigo and dizziness can lead to nausea and vomiting.
- Tinnitus – it is a condition that makes you hear non-existent noises which manifest as ringing or buzzing noises in your ears. It can cause irritability and make it harder for you to focus or get sleep.
- Headaches/migraines – The strain, muscle tension and fatigue induced by the whiplash can lead to headaches and migraines. The headaches usually appear at the base of the skull and affect nearly two-thirds of the patients. You may either experience them on one side (unilateral) or both (bilateral). Additionally, the pain may trickle down to the arms and shoulders, upper chest and upper back.
- Depression and anxiety – What is essentially a physical problem can easily turn into a psychological one. Chronic pain, for instance, will hold you back from doing the things you love or taking care of your responsibilities. This can lead to anxiety disorders and clinical depression and will affect both your personal and professional life.
Failure to treat a whiplash injury increases the risk of experiencing the symptoms way long after the injury happens. Most patients start noticing improvements after several weeks or months, but it can be worse for others: In a particular study, 7.8% of whiplash patients who participated were yet to return to their normal level of work and activities even after one year because of the pain and stiffness they still experienced.
Why You May Need a Personal Injury Attorney
A whiplash injury can be very disruptive as evidenced. Apart from the medical expenses you are likely to incur and the income you lose when you’re unable to do any meaningful work, you may also suffer psychologically due to loss of enjoyment, depression, anxiety and failed marital relationships. Therefore, it is only fair that the person responsible for causing the injury should shoulder the responsibility of paying for your treatment. Hiring a good injury attorney will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
It is advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible after an accident occurs, preferably within 72 hours of the accident. It shouldn’t matter whether you believe the injury is serious or not; research has proved that a whiplash injury can still occur even at speeds as low as 10 and 15 km/h . If you choose to delay, the insurance company can decide to use your delay as an excuse not to give you coverage. But most importantly, you should aim to avoid the long-term health implications that can result if you fail to treat whiplash promptly.