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Whiplash: Symptoms and treatment

Whiplash is a neck injury that often occurs when the head suddenly and violently moves backward and forward. For example, this is common if your vehicle is struck from behind.

The symptoms of whiplash are difficult to miss, as this injury is typically associated with the following:

  • Extreme pain and tightness in and around the neck
  • Decreased range of motion, such as the inability to turn your head from side to side
  • Stiffness when moving your neck, such as looking over your shoulder
  • Headaches, often at the base of the skull

If you're involved in a car accident and recognize these symptoms, don't wait to receive a medical evaluation. Treatment can include but is not limited to the following:

  • Ice: This helps reduce both pain and swelling the first few days after the accident.
  • Painkillers: For example, nonsteroidal drugs, such as Advil and Motrin, can help relieve pain and discomfort
  • Use of a neck collar: While not always required, added support may be necessary early in the recovery process.
  • Alternative treatment: At the right time, techniques such as massage and ultrasound therapy can relieve pain and speed up the recovery process.

You can suffer many types of injury in a car accident, with whiplash among the most common. If you neglect to receive immediate treatment, your injury could linger well into the future.

Once you understand your injuries and prognosis, learn more about the cause of the accident. For instance, if your vehicle was struck from behind, it's almost always the other person's fault. With the right information in hand, it's easier to file an insurance claim and hold the other driver responsible.

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