What Are the Symptoms of Whiplash from a Car Accident?

Whiplash is the common term for a neck injury caused by a forceful and rapid movement of the head back and forth or side to side. Whiplash most often happens in rear-end car accidents, but can also result from a side-impact T-bone crash. Symptoms of whiplash do not always manifest immediately; the victim’s rush of adrenaline can mask the injury for a time, but pain generally sets in within hours.

Mild whiplash can produce the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Dull, radiating pain from the neck to the arms
  • Tenderness and pain in the shoulders and upper back
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms
  • Fatigue and dizziness

People with mild whiplash can usually recover in a matter of weeks or months with a course of pain medication, physical therapy and osteopathic or chiropractic care. But severe whiplash can have lasting complications, including these:

  • Concussion — Symptoms of concussion can include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, blurred vision, tinnitus and mood swings.
  • Torn muscles — Mild whiplash may produce a stretch injury, making movement uncomfortable or painful. But when the muscle is actually torn or ruptured, the head will be completely immobilized. Surgery is generally required, with a recovery period from four to six months.
  • Torn ligaments — Ligament tears often require surgery and a long convalescence.
  • Disk damage — Severe whiplash can cause a disk to “slip,” putting pressure on the spinal cord and producing debilitating pain. Extended therapy and/or surgery will be required.
  • Sharp, radiating pain — Pain from the neck can extend across the shoulders and down the arms and back.
  • Spinal cord damage — The spinal cord itself can undergo trauma, producing numbness, weakness and fatigue in the body below the point of injury. If pressure on the cord is relieved, these symptoms can often be reversed.
  • Cerebral hemorrhage — In rare cases, the rapid movement can cause tearing of brain tissue that produces bleeding, which is immediately life-threatening.

If you are a victim of whiplash, seek medical care immediately. Do not attempt to drive. Wait for an ambulance or have someone else drive you. Go to the emergency room and have a qualified physician check you thoroughly. Immediate care will reduce the chance of complications and give you documentation of your injury, which you might need for a lawsuit.

For experienced representation for whiplash injuries, call Seigel Law at 201.444.4000 or contact us online. We offer free consultations for injured clients in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey.

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