What Does Whiplash Feel Like?

By Peter DePaolis

Accident and Injury Attorneys Serving Victims of Whiplash Injuries in the DC Areas

Whiplash is a common injury following a car accident, especially a rear-end collision. If you notice a tightening sensation in your neck or shoulder area following an accident, you may wonder if you have whiplash.

If it is whiplash, you might have numerous questions. Like, how long will it last? How do you know for sure it is whiplash? What can you do when whiplash keeps you from work or enjoying things you love?

It is important to understand the early symptoms of whiplash. If you notice them, seek treatment immediately. Also, if your whiplash resulted from an accident that was not your fault, seek counsel from a personal injury attorney to see if you qualify for personal injury compensation.

How Does Whiplash Happen?

Whiplash occurs in an accident where your body goes through a violent thrust forward and backward – a whipping motion. The violent force causes the muscles and tendons of the neck to overextend, tear, and become inflamed. Sometimes the symptoms of whiplash appear immediately, but in most cases, it takes a few hours to a few days for the symptoms to fully manifest.

Symptoms of Whiplash to Look For

Sometimes the symptoms are subtle at first. However, as time goes on, you might notice that the intensity of these symptoms begins to increase and reach debilitating levels of pain.

Symptoms also vary depending on the severity of the injury and the person. Some individuals have a higher pain tolerance; therefore, they may not feel as much pain as someone with a lower threshold.

Some common symptoms that a victim with whiplash might encounter include:

  • A tightness or muscle spasm in the neck and upper back region.
  • Pain when moving the neck, shoulders, or back.
  • Dizziness and unexplained headaches.
  • Shoulder pain on one or both sides.
  • Tingling or burning sensations in the upper back and neck area.

In cases of severe whiplash, you may have damage to your cervical muscles, ligaments, and discs.

Fortunately, whiplash rarely leaves a person permanently disabled, and most make a full recovery.

Some unlucky victims might have long-term effects from their accident and the whiplash, such as chronic headaches or neck stiffness.

Do You Suspect Whiplash? Seek Medical Attention Right Away

It is imperative that after an accident you seek medical care. If you notice any of the symptoms of whiplash, go to your doctor quickly. An x-ray may be done to rule out fractures, while diagnostics scans are used to rule out herniated discs and spinal cord damage. Today, the technology running diagnostic scans can detect soft tissue injuries.

The sooner you seek treatment, the faster you will feel better. Treatments vary depending on the severity of your whiplash. In some cases, you might be required to wear a cervical collar or use physical therapy to help loosen the tightened muscles.

While you recover, you might encounter medical costs, pharmacy costs, and you are likely to miss work. Severe cases of soft tissue injuries can result in several days to weeks out of work, especially if your job is physically demanding.

Options for Recovering Compensation after an Accident

If you have whiplash from an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. To explore your options for compensation, you must speak with a personal injury advocate. The sooner you talk to a neck injury attorney the better because the law limits how long you have to file your injury claim.

To get started, schedule a free case evaluation with the personal injury lawyers at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. You can also reach us online to schedule your meeting.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.