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What should you know about whiplash?

Whiplash is a sometimes serious injury that can occur in car crashes or in other incidents. It happens when the head whips forward or side to side quickly, tearing, stretching and injuring the tissues in the neck. In particularly severe cases, the brain even has the potential to impact the skull, resulting in whiplash combined with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Whiplash is often discussed as if it's minor, but the reality is that it can impact your life and lead to long-term pain. Without the right medical care, you could find yourself dealing with headaches, neck pain and backaches following a crash. Whiplash doesn't always appear immediately following an accident due to the effects of adrenaline, so it's very important to seek medical attention if you've been involved in a crash.

Whiplash normally happens in rear-end accidents. It is caused by flexion and extension, which are the forward and backward movements of the neck. When the neck and upper back are overstretched, you suffer an injury as a result. Symptoms can range from having tingling sensations to trouble swallowing. You could struggle with hoarseness, tightness and spasms of the upper back or neck muscles. Upper back pain, shoulder pain and headaches are also common among those who suffer from whiplash.

The only way to get a diagnosis is to see a medical professional after an accident or crash. X-rays are taken to rule out fractures, and CT or MRI scans are performed to make sure you don't have a herniated disk or severe ligament injury. Once you find out if you have a serious injury, you can include this information when you make a claim.

Source: Spine Universe, "Whiplash: 5 Things You Should Know," Gerald Malanga, MD, accessed June 01, 2018

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