West Virginia’s rural roads cause a significant number of accidents due to mountainous terrain, winding roads, and poor maintenance by the state. Many car accidents in West Virginia as well as across the nation cause whiplash, an injury that affects 3 million people each year. A person gets whiplash during a collision when their head quickly whips from one direction to another. This causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck to overstretch and hurt.
Adrenaline pumps through the body immediately following a car accident, and so any pain the victim should feel may be masked by the rush. A person might not even realize they have whiplash until hours or weeks after the accident.
Side Effects When Whiplash is Left Untreated
Any injury from a car accident should be treated immediately. Whiplash is no different. Like most other injuries, serious side effects can occur when left untreated:
- Stiffness and loss of motion. As well as the chronic neck pain and stiffness, untreated whiplash can even lead to degenerative disc disease and vertebrae misalignment. Degenerative disc disease causes the discs between vertebrae to deteriorate, which causes pain, weakness, and numbness because the vertebrae can pinch nerves. Vertebrae misalignment is when a vertebra slips out of place, which causes problems moving the neck and limited communication between the brain and the nervous system.
- Sleeping difficulties. Pain in the neck can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Restless sleep then contributes to even more neck stiffness the next morning.
- Depression and anxiety. Not only is your physical health compromised by whiplash, but your mental health can suffer as well. The constant pain holding you back in your day to day life can cause depression and anxiety and can affect your personal and professional relationships.
- Dizziness and vertigo. Tension in the neck can impede communication in the brain, which can lead to dizzy spells and vertigo. Vertigo can cause falls and nausea because it makes you feel as though you are falling or spinning while standing still.
- Ringing in the ears. One of the first signs for whiplash is tinnitus, commonly known as ringing or buzzing in the ears. If tinnitus is not treated, it can lead to irritability as well as trouble focusing and sleeping.
- Chronic headaches and migraines. Headaches can flare from the base of the skull and radiate to the forehead and back or sides of the head. The pain can reach to your back and shoulders. Migraines can even occur, which make you sensitive to light and could even cause blurred vision.
- Spinal fracture. In some cases, a spinal fracture can go unnoticed because the similar symptoms of whiplash mask this more serious injury.
Whiplash can be difficult to diagnose because it can present itself through many symptoms. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs might not even show any signs of injury right away. Normally it takes your neck upwards of 17 weeks to heal, and symptoms in most people last 6 months or longer. Even with prompt treatment, a quarter of patients fail to return to normal as far as 2 years out from injury. If you’ve waited to go to the doctor, your recovery will take even longer. Instead of waiting until the pain is unbearable, you should go to the doctor as soon as possible to finally start healing.
First Signs of Whiplash
Keeping on the lookout for the early signs of whiplash could prevent you from getting any of the serious damage listed above. Here are the signs that are typically first to emerge:
- Neck pain accompanied by swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion
- Headaches at the base of the skull
- Ringing or buzzing noises in the ears
- Dizziness, feeling faint, or feeling like the world is spinning
- Tingling or numbness in arms or hands
If you were in a car accident and were injured, you might have limited movement and be unable to return to work for weeks, months, or longer. You’ll need someone to deal with the legal side of everything while you focus on healing. Our West Virginia car accident attorneys can give you the help you need to get compensation for your injuries and their effects on your day to day life.