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Human Neck

Whiplash injury in Iowa? We can help.

Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by a rapid back and forth motion like that of a whip. The Mayo Clinic states that the most common cause, although not only cause, of whiplash is a rear end car accident. Obviously, whiplash injuries can also occur in truck accidents and other types of car accidents but, again, they are most frequently sustained in rear-end accidents.

The most common pain complaints regarding whiplash include generalize neck pain, stiffness and soreness of the neck and upper-back, and headaches which can often be caused by the tension of the whiplash itself. Although whiplash injuries typically involve the neck and upper back, people experiencing it often describe the pain radiating into the upper shoulders and sometimes pain down into the mid-back. Whiplash is occasionally called a strain/sprain injury but that description can be applied to other types of injuries as well.

Fortunately, most people recover from whiplash, depending on the severity, in anywhere from a few weeks to a few months but some people have permanent pain. Treatment often involves some combinations of: rest, ice, heat, pain relievers, both over the counter and prescription, injections, chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, the use of a TENS Unit, at home exercises and the like.

Some personal injury cases appear to be relatively straightforward whiplash cases but eventually turn out to be much more severe and may even require a spinal fusion.

When thinking about a traditional whiplash injury, the vision of a foam collar often comes to mind. However, studies have shown that keeping the neck stationary for long periods of time can actually do more harm than good so the use of these collars is much less frequent that it once was. Although they are still recommended on occasion, a patient typically only wears one for a few hours at a time and during much more specific times of the day or night.

With proper treatment, many people do recover from whiplash however some people develop long standing problems from what might sound like a relatively straightforward injury.

Symptoms of whiplash:
Whiplash pain complaints commonly set in within 24 hours of the initial injury but that is not absolute and it is not uncommon for people to first notice pain symptoms several days later. In some cases the pain is not noticed as it is masked by other issues being experienced by the victim of a car accident. That said, in addition to neck pain and stiffness, other pain complaints include, but are not limited to:

• Decreased range of motion of the neck
• An unusual sense of fatigue
• Issues with dizziness
• Vision problems
• Buzzing or ringing in the ears
• Difficulties with concentration
• Problems concentrating
• Difficulties with memory

The list goes on. As you can see, whiplash isn’t necessarily the minor inconvenience that the insurance companies would like you to believe it is. In addition to this laundry list of possible symptoms, as mentioned previously, these symptoms can stay with a person indefinitely and have a dramatic impact on their quality of life. Given that, it is important to be seen by a qualified health care provider as soon as possible following a car accident to not only ensure a proper diagnosis but to begin a treatment protocol to help minimize pain and expedite healing.

Treatment for whiplash:
When you are seen for whiplash, or any other injury, it is critical that you provide your doctor as much detail as possible. When advising our clients on what information they should provide to their doctors, we often tell them to start at the top of their head and work to the tip of their toes outlining each and every ache and pain they are experiencing following their injury. The purpose of this approach is two-fold: first, it enables the doctor to make the most accurate diagnosis possible and, in turn, enables him or her to prescribe the most effective treatment. The second reason for this approach is that if you leave out a symptom, although you are experiencing it, yet you later receive treatment for said complaint, the insurance companies can go back to your original visit and contend that since you didn’t tell your doctor, you must not have been having the pain and, thus, it must not be from the original injury.

When describing your symptoms to your doctor, it is also important to differentiate your current pain from prior pain if you indeed had prior pain. For example, if you had a recent car accident and are having neck pain yet you had prior neck pain from another cause, you would want to explain that this “new” pain is more intense or in a slightly different location or has more of a tingling component than your prior pain. Again, this type of explanation helps with diagnosis as well as works to prevent insurance companies from minimizing your “new injury” by trying to attach your current symptoms to your prior symptoms. Some people find using a pain scale helpful – for example: prior to the accident, my neck pain was a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10 but it is now a 7.

In diagnosing whiplash, in addition to a physical exam which would likely include, at a minimum, range of motion testing and palpation (feeling for spasm and other irregularities), your doctor may order diagnostic testing such as x-rays, MRI, or a CT Scan. Although many “soft tissue” injuries cannot be seen on these tests, they are often helpful in identifying other injuries such as a disc injury.

Contact a Des Moines Whiplash Lawyer:
If you have suffered a whiplash, or any type of injury following a car accident, Email Des Moines Injury or call us at 515-493-HURT  for a no cost no obligation consultation; learn your rights and how we can help you. You are never charged a fee unless we make a recovery for you.

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