It can happen in an instant. As a driver or a passenger, everyone assumes a risk every time they get on the road. Serious accidents are on the decline thanks to a slew of new technologies dedicated to making cars safer than ever, but even so-called “fender-benders” can have far reaching consequences.

What is whiplash?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institute of Health, defines whiplash as “a soft tissue injury to the neck… also called neck sprain or neck strain. It is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck.”

Whiplash is the result of extremely sudden movements; the muscles can’t keep up and are extended past the usual range of motion. The symptoms can be apparent immediately or take some time to develop. When they do appear, symptoms can include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Injuries to the muscles and ligaments
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Abnormal sensations (burning, prickling)
  • Shoulder or back pain

Less often, whiplash can result in memory loss, impaired concentration, nervousness or irritability, sleep disturbance, fatigue, or depression. While most cases of whiplash typically resolve within 3 months, it’s possible to experience long-term effects.

Dr. Bearden, of the Nashville Accident & Injury Center, said, “Many auto accident victims don’t realize that a seemingly minor fender bender can actually result in a serious injury. Whiplash injuries are very common after auto accidents. Unfortunately, many victims delay treatment because they do not realize they have been injured until weeks after the accident… This is why I recommend all accident victims receive at the very least a preliminary spinal exam, even if they initially feel fine.”

Collisions at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour can cause whiplash. In extreme cases, a neck brace can immobilize a victim’s muscles to allow proper healing and reduce pain. While painkillers can be prescribed, those seeking a drug-free solution often turn to chiropractors. Whatever course of treatment you choose, make sure that an x-ray is taken to rule out any fractures and make sure that everything is where it should be. If you or someone you know has suffered from whiplash as the result of an accident, please contact us for a free consultation.