Whiplash is a catch-all term for the types of stress injuries that are caused when your neck is rapidly swung forward and back by sudden deceleration such as during a car accident or a variety of other types of crashes. Unlike most other kinds of injuries, whiplash symptoms don't usually manifest immediately, and can take hours, or sometimes as much as a day, to appear.
What are the Symptoms of Whiplash?
Whiplash symptoms include headaches, stiffness, muscle pain, vision problems, and back pain among a few other things. In extreme cases whiplash can include herniated discs in the neck, muscle tears, pinched nerves, and other painful and debilitating injuries. Unlike other muscle pain or stiffness, moving around will worsen the symptoms instead of relieving them. This type of pain that gets worse with time instead of improving is a hallmark of whiplash injuries.
How Long Does it Last?
The time it takes to recover from whiplash greatly depends on the severity of the injuries. Mild cases can heal in a matter of days or weeks, while severe cases can cause debilitating symptoms that last for months or even years.
Do I need to Go to a Doctor?
You should always go to a doctor as soon as you can after a car accident. Getting medical attention is not only a good way to get treatment early, it helps you document your condition so that you can more easily seek (or sue for) compensation for your medical bills from your insurance company, or from the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
This is especially important in case your symptoms take a long time to clear up, because you may be eligible for coverage of any lost income if you're unable to work because of your injuries.
How is it Treated?
Whiplash can't simply be "fixed", since doctors can't repair nerve and muscle tissue, but a they can help you manage the pain and can provide advice on how to deal with your specific injuries to help them best heal.
Whiplash is a painful condition to deal with, but with the right medical and legal help you'll be fine in relatively short order.