Dealing With Whiplash: What You Need To Know

Car accidents occur unexpectedly. Though some are minor fender benders, others can damage vehicles and cause serious injuries. If you experience abnormal symptoms after an accident, especially a rear-end collision, you might be suffering from whiplash.

Whiplash most commonly describes the hyperextension of soft tissues in the neck if thrust into a rapid back-and-forth movement while a person is seated. The force of another car suddenly hitting yours can cause this jarring motion. The neck is one of the weakest parts of the body, though one of the most crucial. Any unbalanced weight, even if it just comes from poor posture or carrying a heavy backpack or purse, may burden the delicate balance between skull and spine.

The cerebellum sits at the base of the brain — near the brain stem and spinal cord — and manages physical balance. Whiplash puts the cerebellum at risk since it’s so close to the neck. An injury to this part of the brain can result in limited range of motion and other ailments. Whiplash is a more common injury than you might think, and it can cause long-term harm if left untreated. For instance, muscles and tendons have a tendency to weaken and lose their strength after an injury, making rehabilitation more difficult and re-injury more likely. After you’ve left the scene of an accident, seek medical attention to avoid a more serious emergency room visit in the future.

Along with a neck injury, whiplash can cause severe headaches, tinnitus, numbness and other disorders. Sometimes these symptoms don’t present themselves right away but become more prevalent with time, so make sure to visit the doctor after an accident even if you feel fine.

It’s important to prevent mental or physical damage by prioritizing your health and safety. Strengthen your muscles to withstand sprains and awkward movements. When you’re driving, exhibit safe practices — such as wearing a seat belt — in case of a collision.

Consult the accompanying infographic for more information about causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of whiplash.

Author bio: Reid Zaritsky is Senior Vice President of Capital Auto Auction, a family-run business since 1988 that focuses on finding the right vehicles for families of all sizes. Zaritsky has been with the company since 2009, and has a background in science and engineering.