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How serious is a whiplash injury?

When you become the victim of a car crash in Illinois, particularly one in which a negligent motorist rear-ends you, you have a very high risk of sustaining a whiplash injury. As Spine-Health.com explains, a whiplash occurs when the force of the impact of the other car hitting yours makes your head and neck suddenly jerk backward and forward. These extremely quick, violent movements put enormous stress on your cervical spine

The medical name for whiplash is cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome, also known as CAD. While many people recover from a whiplash injury within three months of its occurrence, you could experience long-term or even lifetime symptoms including the following:

  • Neck pain ranging from mild to excruciating
  • Neck stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion of your head and neck
  • Shoulder and/or upper back pain
  • Headaches, often severe
  • Tingling, weakness or numbness radiating into your shoulders and/or down your arms

Although you can experience any of these symptoms immediately after your accident, they also may not appear until about 24 hours afterward. Once they do, they may or may not worsen over time.

Diagnosing whiplash

Diagnosing your specific whiplash injury can be difficult since it could involve a fractured bone, nerve damage, a slipped disc, etc. In addition, your pain and the extent of it are subjective. Your doctor likely will do the following:

  • Take your complete medical history
  • Perform a complete physical examination, paying particular attention to your head, neck and back and how well and completely you can move them
  • Take an x-ray
  • Order an MRI
  • Order a CT scan

Treating whiplash

Many initial whiplash treatments consist of self-help therapies such as rest, applying ice and/or heat, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and wearing a cervical collar. If none of these work and your symptoms fail to resolve, or even become worse, you may need prescription medications, physical therapy, manual manipulation of your neck and spine by a chiropractor, acupuncture, massage therapy or a host of other treatments and therapies. This is educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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