4 things to know about whiplash

As you drove home from work yesterday, you were involved in a car accident. You were rear-ended by a driver that failed to stop with the rest of the traffic. Fortunately, you avoided broken bones, but now - the day after - you are experiencing severe neck and back pain.

Aside from the damage to your car, you could be facing some substantial medical expenses depending upon your diagnosis. The chances are good that you will be able to receive a settlement from the other driver's insurance, but will it be enough to cover future expenses that are a direct result of the accident? An experienced Baton Rouge personal injury attorney can help you make the best choices regarding any offers made by the insurance company.

You may have suffered a serious whiplash injury due to the car wreck. Read below for some basic information on whiplash.

Causes of neck pain

It can take days or weeks for your doctor to know fully the extent of the damage done in a car accident, especially if you are suffering from neck or back pain. Usually, the impact causes the muscles and ligaments to become strained and inflamed. It can take six to 10 weeks for this kind of injury to heal. If the pain lasts longer than that, damage to a disc or facet joint might be the culprit.

The most common pain you might experience after a car wreck is in the facet joint. It is easy to mistake this pain for simple muscle pain since the area is typically tender to the touch. Unfortunately, an X-ray image cannot confirm if the problem exists in the facet joint. Only an injection called a medial branch block can tell if the joint is causing the pain.

Whiplash can tear the outer wall of a disc and could be what is causing you chronic pain. Sometime the disc heals on its own, but sometimes it gets weaker and more stressed over time. It is possible that the car wreck caused both an injured facet joint and a tear in the disc.

Symptoms of whiplash

Some of the symptoms whiplash may cause includes headaches. These can happen if the facet joints, upper cervical discs or higher joints in the neck were injured in the accident. If you are suffering from nerve compression due to a herniated disc, you might experience pain or a feeling of heaviness in your arm. Lower back pain and difficulty concentrating are also signs of whiplash.

The diagnosis process

Usually, your doctor will ask you what type of symptoms you are experiencing and how you were injured. After a physical examination, your doctor will have an idea of which tests to order to diagnose you fully. Sometimes, if the problem hasn't healed after 12 weeks, your doctor will require additional tests. You may need X-rays, or you could need a magnetic resonance imaging scan. It is possible that your doctor will order a computed tomography (CT) scan or other type of test to properly diagnosis your injury and prescribe proper treatment.

Treatment

For the first few weeks, you will more than likely need physical therapy that includes strength training and body mechanics instruction. If, after 12 weeks, you are not showing significant improvement, you may require more specialized treatments.

Neck and back injuries that result from car accidents can be very serious. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you understand your rights and options when you deal with the other driver's insurance company. Contact a Baton Rouge personal injury attorney for help filing your claim.

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