FAQs About Neck Injuries

Whiplash Injuries FAQs

I have more questions about whiplash. How can I get answers?

Feel free to contact us at any time. We’re happy to answer all of your questions and discuss the details of your case. If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered a neck injury in Rochester or elsewhere in New York, call Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, at 800-TALK-LAW (800-825-5529) or contact us via our online contact form. All calls and inquiries are responded to the same day, usually within one hour. There is no case-review cost.

Is it possible to prevent whiplash?

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to avoid a whiplash injury. Although air bags have dramatically improved vehicle safety, they do little to help prevent a whiplash. Checking your headrest is one thing you can do to try to prevent a whiplash injury. The headrest should be right behind your head, and your head should be close to the headrest when the vehicle is moving to reduce the risk of a whiplash injury should you be involved in a collision.

What medical treatments are available for whiplash victims?

Once your doctor has ruled out more serious injuries, he or she will likely encourage you to try to move your neck. While it was once common to immobilize someone with a whiplash injury, many doctors now believe that moving the neck gently is better to prevent stiffness or muscle atrophy. You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant and pain medications. In some cases, steroid injections may be given and traction may be used. Therapeutic massage, physical therapy and chiropractic treatment are also common for whiplash victims. Heat or ice packs may reduce pain. Rest is also important.

Why did my doctor order X-rays or other diagnostic tests?

Although whiplash is considered a soft-tissue injury, the doctor may order X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI, as well as other tests, to check for other injuries. Injuries to the spine or spinal cord can be extremely serious, even life-threatening. For this reason, your doctor may perform as many tests as he or she feels necessary to ensure that you do not have a more serious injury.

I was in an accident in Rochester today and I don’t feel any pain. Can I assume I don’t have whiplash?

Because of the nature of whiplash, the symptoms of the injury often do not appear until 24 to 48 hours after the accident that caused the injury. Think about the last time you went for a long walk or did a lot of hard, physical labor. You probably felt fine right after, only to experience serious pain and stiffness the next day. That is how a whiplash injury often works. Just because you feel OK right after an accident does not mean you were not injured. Always have a thorough medical examination after an accident, regardless of how you feel at the moment. Along with checking for whiplash, a doctor also needs to check for other injuries that might not be obvious.

How long will my whiplash symptoms persist?

For most victims, the symptoms of whiplash injury will fade after about a month with conservative treatment. If, however, you continue to have pain, numbness, tingling or other symptoms after this time, then speak to your physician. Some whiplash victims continue to have pain for months, even years, after the initial accident.

How do whiplash and other neck injuries occur?

Stretching from the base of the skull to the top of the pelvis, the spine protects the spinal cord, as well as provides support for the trunk of the body and the head. The spine allows you to be flexible enough to bend down and touch your toes, as well as to walk upright. Although the spine is amazingly strong and flexible, it can be injured. Whiplash is a neck injury that happens when the ligaments and muscles that surround the cervical vertebrae (spinal bones of the neck) are damaged as a result of extreme force exerted on the head or neck. Car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash injuries. When the head is thrown back and then forward with great force, it stretches the ligaments and muscles in the neck beyond their maximum flexion range. This creates a whiplash injury.

How common are whiplash injuries?

Statistics tell us that as many as 3 million people suffer a whiplash injury each year. Rear-end car accidents cause the majority of those injuries. Even a low-speed crash can cause whiplash. In fact, the majority of whiplash injuries are the result of a car crash that occurred at a below 12 mph. There is little relationship between the speed of the crash and the severity of a whiplash injury. Although some whiplash injuries eventually heal, many whiplash victims end up with chronic pain.

What are the symptoms of whiplash?

The symptoms of a whiplash injury can vary depending on exactly what area of the neck/spine was injured, as well as how serious the injury is. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Neck pain, stiffness, soreness
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability
  • Balance problems.

It is very important to remember that each of these symptoms could also point to a more serious injury. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to have a doctor perform a complete examination immediately.