Whiplash is a common injury suffered in automobile accidents (usually a “rear-end collision”) and refers to a sprain of the neck. The medical term for a whiplash is hyperflexion/hyperextension injury or a “cervical strain/sprain.” The term whiplash can have a negative connotation implying that the injury is faked or not severe. However, whiplash, in some cases can cause severe and permanent damage. A cervical sprain is a painful injury as those who have suffered it will readily attest to.
Doctors diagnose whiplash with a patient history and by examining the head and neck. Usually, x-rays are taken to rule out any bone fractures and sometimes CAT scans or MRI’s are used. The course of treatment is the alternating application of ice and heat to the neck. Many times, a physician will also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication and a muscle relaxant. Sometimes narcotic pain medication is also given in severe neck sprain situations. After 10 days of treatment, physical therapy can be started. The physical therapists apply ultrasound treatment and electrical muscle stimulation treatments that are designed to encourage blood flow into the damage tissues and maintain the strength and flexibility of the injured muscles.
The Québec Task Force (the association of automobile insurers for Canada) classifies a whiplash in four grades:
• Grade 1 – the patient complains of neck pain with stiffness and tenderness but the physicians sees no other physical signs of injury.
• Grade 2 – the patient has neck pain and stiffness and decreased range of motion.
• Grade 3 – the patient has neck pain, decreased range of motion and other neurological problems such as insomnia, weakness, and decreased tendon reflexes.
• Grade 4 – the patient, in addition to any of the above neck complaints has a fracture or dislocation to the spinal cord.
Whiplash is not a trivial condition and may require the services of a medical doctor, chiropractor and physical therapists. Treatment can last for months and patients can have lingering effects and even permanent damage. To ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of wages, you may need to contact an attorney who specializes in representing accident victims. Generally, lawyers handle auto accident cases on a contingent fee basis. That means they do not charge you any attorneys’ fees, until and unless they recover money for you. They then receive a percentage only of what they help you recover. With the help of The Farber Law Group, a Washington law firm experienced and knowledgeable in handling whiplash cases, you may be able to recover your damages.