If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury, you understand how painful it can be. While whiplash can resolve within months, some victims are unable to work or even do daily chores for years. When your life is affected by someone’s negligence, you need the assistance an experienced attorney can provide.
One-minute Video of How Whiplash Occurs In Auto Collisions
How Long Does Whiplash Last?
While it may take several days to show the symptoms of whiplash, the effects can last much longer. For some, whiplash symptoms resolve within three months, but for others, the pain and discomfort persist for years. One Danish study found that those with serious whiplash injuries were still disabled by the pain one year after the injury. Another study showed that over 70 percent of those injured had some symptoms up to seven years after the injury. Let’s take an in-depth look at whiplash, what it is and what causes it and how early treatment is beneficial.
Help From Experienced Whiplash Lawyers in LA
David Azizi has been practicing personal injury law in Los Angeles, California for 25 years. He is highly regarded by his clients and the community for his adherence to the rights of others, and he works diligently to make sure his clients receive the compensation they deserve to move on after an injury. He wins 98 percent of his cases, an amazing record that his clients appreciate. Call him anytime at 800-991-5292 or contact him online.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissues of the neck, which includes the muscles, tendons, ligaments and even the sponge-like discs between the vertebrae of the cervical spine. It occurs when the neck is suddenly thrust in a backward direction followed by a forward recoil. As this happens, the soft-tissue neck elements are pulled beyond their normal limits, causing pain and structural damage. It most commonly occurs in car accidents.
Phases of Whiplash
Initial phase – backward: After impact, usually from the rear, the neck is thrust into a violent backward motion. The backward motion can be limited by the headrest. Yet, up to 20 percent of all damage occurs despite this.
Second phase – forward: In this phase, the person’s head moves forward in a snap-like motion. When this happens, the muscles, ligaments and intervertebral discs are stretched, causing some component fibers to tear. Vertebrae are pushed out of alignment, and the spinal cord may be affected. As the head moves forward, the individual’s brain does too, often striking the skull. This can cause modest injury to the brain, resulting in neurological symptoms.
Additional Consequences of Whiplash
In some cases, disc herniation can occur due to the destruction of the soft discs that separate one vertebra from another. Preexisting osteoporosis can present problems also since the vertebrae are fragile in these patients, and the force of a whiplash injury can cause the vertebrae to fracture. In more serious accidents, the forward motion of the head and brain can cause concussion or bruising of the brain.
In older individuals, even a mild head injury can result in a subdural hematoma, which is a collection of blood between the dura layer that protects the brain and the brain’s surface. This can occur up to 30 days after the injury. If this happens, doctors may use a surgical procedure to remove the blood or allow it to resorb on its own. If the latter option is chosen, multiple MRIs or CT scans are needed to monitor the clot’s size.
Symptoms Associated With Whiplash
The symptom complex associated with whiplash is dependent on several factors such as the direction and speed of impact. It is also defined by the victim’s stature and their age. Smaller individuals have a greater chance of significant injury. Women and children also have less muscle support in their cervical area and suffer more serious injury. Older individuals have a higher incidence of complications.
Common Symptoms of Whiplash
Some of the most common whiplash symptoms include:
- Neck pain and stiffness: This occurs in nine out of 10 people with whiplash. If the discs are involved, it is likely the pain will become chronic. When discs are damaged, they can rupture, leaving the vertebrae to grate on one another. As the nerves exit the spinal cord, this can cause significant irritation to the nerves or compress them, leading to additional problems such as numbness and tingling in the arms and decreased muscle strength among others. Nerve involvement can also be felt in the area between the shoulder blades or in the low back.
- Headaches, commonly located at the skull’s base: This occurs in eight out of 10 people with whiplash. It may be referred pain from the injury to the neck muscles or be the result of brain trauma.
- Jaw pain: This happens less frequently. When it does, it can become a chronic problem.
- Back pain: The cervical spine is not an isolated entity. When an accident occurs, the low back is also involved. In fact, victims of rear end (50-percent) and side impact (75-percent) accidents, also experience low back pain.
- Brain injury symptoms:
○ Vision problems such as blurred vision
○ Cognitive problems
○ Memory problems
○ Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
○ Irritable or anger-ridden behavior
○ Problems sleeping
○ Numbness in the arms or hands
Types of Accidents Where Whiplash Can Occur
While whiplash is most commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, it can also occur in many other types of accidents:
- Assault to the head
- Amusement park accidents, particularly bumper cars
- Equestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Semi-truck accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
Treatment for whiplash is divided into acute and chronic care. In the acute phase, analgesics and warm compresses are used to alleviate pain. In the past, cold compresses were used in the early stages, but recently, the medical community is advocating for the use of warm compresses to relax the muscles even at the outset. Muscle relaxants are used in some cases where OTC medication is not effective. Physical therapy techniques can also be adept at reducing stiffness.
In the past, cervical collars were used extensively but are now recommended for no more than three hours out of a 24-hour day. If disc damage or herniation has occurred, surgical repair may be necessary if a conservative approach does not work.
Some patients develop chronic neck pain after whiplash. The reasons for this chronic form of whiplash pain have been linked to damage to the vertebral bodies secondary to this injury. Recently, scientists have shown that one particular joint, cervical zygapophysial joint, is involved as a cause of chronic neck pain. This involves the small facet joints that exist behind and between two adjacent vertebrae.
Such joints prevent excessive motion when the spine moves and yet allow the flexibility the spine needs. The pain can be persistent with numerous episodes. A CT scan is the best diagnostic tool. Conservative methods are often used to control painful episodes. Some surgical procedures are available if control is not possible.
Lower the Risk of Whiplash
Since the vast majority of whiplash injuries happen in automobiles, it is important to take several precautions:
- Adjust the headrest correctly. To make sure the headrest is at the right height, put your hand on the top of your head when sitting in the car. You should feel the headrest with your hand. It should be no more than two inches away from the rear portion of your head.
- If your vehicle has seat adjusters, position the seat at a 20-degree angle.
Los Angeles Whiplash Law Firm With Your Interests in Mind
David Azizi knows it is important that an attorney can put himself in a client’s shoes when it comes to the pain he or she is experiencing. A whiplash injury can not only be painful, it also limits you from doing the things you like to do as well as being able to work.
Along with a sudden decrease in wages, medical expenses mount. It is important to know that you can recover the damages and be able to receive the medical care you deserve. David Azizi will work hard to ensure that you can do both.
Since one of the most important questions he is asked is how much is my case worth, David has developed a calculator expressly for whiplash. Just click on the link and fill in your data.
Once you are done with that, call David at 800-991-5292 to set up a free consultation. He’ll use your answers and information you share during the case review to provide you with options. He’ll also answer any questions you might have. Join the other clients David has helped and put your case in the hands of the man Expertise.com called one of the top lawyers in Los Angeles.