It can be very difficult to identify whiplash injuries, as they will not always appear on an X-Ray; weakness of the muscles supporting the neck, which is what causes pain, is very difficult to detect with tests. Therefore, scans and tests will only be carried out if a medical professional suspects a broken bone.
However, the pain is very real for the victim and, what's more, the symptoms may not be immediately apparent. It can take several hours or days for symptoms to develop fully after the initial injury. It's also hard to predict how long it will take for symptoms to subside, as recovery periods can last anything from a few weeks in minor cases to a matter of years.
The most common effects of whiplash
Headaches are a common after effect, as the damage to the nerves in the cervical spine causes pain in both the neck and head. When pain is felt at the back of the head it is known as a cervicogenic headache.
Neck pain – caused by the hyperflexion and hyperextension of the neck (i.e. the sudden back and forth motion of the neck due to the force of impact).
Restriction of neck movement – as muscle stiffness and pain develop.
Lower back pain – Accident impact can stretch and strain the soft tissues of the back and spine as well as those in the neck.
Less common symptoms include a tingling feeling, heaviness and pain in the shoulders. A very small percentage of people suffering from whiplash related injuries have problems with memory, depression (particularly if the pain is prolonged and impacts the victim in their daily life), and sleep loss. Some people also suffer from late whiplash syndrome, which is where the symptoms of the whiplash injury are felt for more than six months after the accident occurred.
In a high speed car crash the impact is more severe and the whiplash injuries sustained can therefore be more severe. This could include:
- damage to the vertebrae, which can become fractured. If this happens it can result in spinal cord injury and paralysis.
- damage to spinal discs. If this happens, it can also cause spinal cord damage and requires surgery.
Talk to Thompsons' whiplash compensation specialists
If you have been involved in a car crash and think you may have suffered whiplash injuries, you should speak to your GP for advice.
If you have been involved in a car crash, even if you are unsure whether you would be able to make a compensation claim, contact our No Win No Fee lawyers today on 0800 0891 331. We will investigate matters for you and advise you on your first step towards receiving the compensation you deserve.