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Whiplash after a car accident: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

You may experience neck problems after a car accident. According to the Mayo Clinic, auto collisions are one of the main causes of whiplash. The term "whiplash" occurs to a neck injury that happens when your neck forcefully and rapidly moves back and forth. 

While you may hear about whiplash, you may not know about the exact symptoms, how to get a diagnosis or what recovery looks like. Here is a guide to understanding all these aspects of a whiplash injury. 

Signs and symptoms

It is hard to ignore the symptoms of whiplash, which include the following:

  • Decreased range of motion in the neck
  • Neck tightness
  • Neck pain, especially when moving your head backward and forward or side to side
  • Headaches starting at the base of the skull
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

The force that results in whiplash can sometimes cause concussions and brain injuries too. No matter what signs you experience after a car crash, you should always visit your doctor.

Getting a diagnosis

Seek attention from a medical professional so you can get an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may give you a physical examination, X-ray, CT-scan or even an MRI. Your doctor may use further tests to make sure you do not have any other complications. A diagnosis is crucial for getting treatment and also proving you were injured in an accident, which is useful for obtaining a settlement. 

Treatment for whiplash

How you recover from a neck injury largely depends on the severity of the impact, but some common treatments include the following:

  • Taking pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen or prescription painkillers
  • Using an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain
  • Wearing a collar or neck brace
  • Physical therapy

You should follow the instructions of your doctor. Whiplash usually heals on its own but these methods can help alleviate symptoms and expedite recovery.

You should also pursue compensation for your injuries and medical costs.

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