AUGUST 22, 2011: Because of the unethical actions of a few people out to make money, whiplash injuries may be the most misunderstood back and neck injury. When many people hear about a whiplash complaint, they assume the neck injury is a fake. But the truth is, whiplash can be just as serious as any back injury or neck injury, causing serious pain for victims.
Part of the problem with whiplash injuries is that people will fake the injury as a way of making money off an accident. A variety of accidents can result in a whiplash injury and the symptoms are easy to fake. One of the symptoms of whiplash is neck discomfort, which can be difficult for doctors or experts to refute. But for those who suffer an actual whiplash injury, the consequences are very real.
Whiplash injuries occur when the victim's body remains still but the head is thrust backward and then very quickly forward—similar to how the body would respond in a rear-end car accident. Although people use the word whiplash to describe the injuries, whiplash actually describes the motion of the head and neck. The injuries have a variety of names, including neck sprain and neck strain.
Symptoms of whiplash injuries include neck pain and swelling, neck stiffness, dizziness, tenderness in the back, muscle spasms, difficulty moving the neck, and headache and pain that shoots from the neck into the shoulder. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, some patients may also experience nervousness, irritability, memory loss and problems with concentration. Symptoms may appear immediately after the injury occurs or may take a few days.
Although most whiplash injuries involve minor soft tissue damage and victims fully recover from their injuries, some victims suffer a fracture of the vertebra and/or dislocation of the vertebra, which can have more serious consequences. Damage to the vertebra can result in temporary paralysis and permanent damage to the nerves in the area.
Whiplash injuries can be incredibly painful and they can require months of rehabilitation for the victim to recover. For most patients, recovery happens relatively quickly, but those with severe whiplash injuries might suffer from chronic pain, chronic headaches and spinal cord damage. For these patients, recovery can be a long process, and they may never fully recover.
By Heidi Turner