Whiplash in auto accidents is the result of a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. This means that car crash victims can experience whiplash due to a sudden stop from rear ending another vehicle, from rolling their car and having violent neck movement, or from being hit hard from behind. Even if the occupant’s car has an airbag that protects him or her from hitting the steering wheel, the tremendous force put upon the head, which is then put on the neck muscles, can cause whiplash. Whiplash is just one type of injury that 2.3 million auto collision victims suffer each year, according to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to Medicine.net, whiplash costs the U.S. economy $30 billion each year in lost revenue and medical expenses.
The Pains of Whiplash
Whiplash can cause weeks of pain followed by prolonged neck muscle weakness and poor mobility. Typically, the older the injured person, the longer it takes to recover from whiplash. While whiplash is not as serious an injury as, for example, a fractured vertebrae, it is still incredibly painful. Many victims are unable to work, drive, care for their children, and do other normal activities until the injury has healed. The symptoms of whiplash include:
- Severe neck pain, especially when attempting to move the neck even slightly
- Neck tightness or immobility
- Knotted muscles and
Treating Whiplash is Time-Intensive
Whiplash is a soft tissue injury, meaning that the blood flow to the area is good for fast recovery. However, soft tissue injuries often do not have a surgical or medical fix, such as plastering a broken arm or reattaching a torn ACL. Whiplash victims must rest and be patient. If you have suffered whiplash, follow the below steps:
- Your doctor may prescribe the use of a neck brace or neck collar to help stabilize your head. However, your doctor will likely tell you to refrain from prolonged use of these devices, as they can lead to weakened muscles.
- Ice the neck for 15-30 minutes for three days. Make sure to have a thin cloth barrier between the ice or ice pack and your skin, as direct icing can damage skin.
- Use prescribed pain medication from you doctor or over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to help you rest and sleep through the pain, as well as to continue decreasing the swelling.
- After three days of icing, apply heat for 15-30 minutes at a time. This will help bring blood flow to the area, which will speed recovery (and help decrease the pain.)
- Massage can help decrease the pain and increase blood flow and mobility. Massage should be used later on in the treatment, not in the immediate days following your auto accident. Whiplash can take multiple weeks to recover.
If you have suffered a case of whiplash or other injuries from a New York auto collision, you may be owed compensation for the negligent party. Contact one of our experienced New York auto collision attorneys immediately for a free consultation. The law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC can be reached at 212-397-1000 and we are here to help you through this incredibly difficult period of your life.