Walking from an accident scene unscathed can be quite a relief, although you may still have property damage to worry about.
However, feeling seemingly unharmed after an accident doesn’t always mean that all is well. Some hidden injuries, such as whiplash, can take quite some time to show, so it is important to visit the ER even when you think you could be alright.
Keep reading as we explore everything you need to know about whiplash, including its symptoms, how long it takes to manifest, and everything else.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck sprain or strain. It occurs after a sudden back and forth jerking of the head, resulting in an overextension of the neck tissue.
Whiplash is the most common type of injury in all traffic accidents. While you can suffer whiplash in any road accident, this type of injury is more prevalent in rear-end collisions.
If your whiplash results from an accident that was not your fault, you have a right to pursue compensation for damages. Although you could handle the claims process on your own, enlisting the services of a car accident lawyer to help you after a car crash can be a good idea.
Symptoms of whiplash can vary widely. This vast collection of whiplash related symptoms is referred to as whiplash-associated syndrome and can include:
- Pain, usually at the back of the neck, or shoulder pain
- Muscle spasms
- Stiff neck
- Lower back pain
- Burly vision
- Inability to concentrate
Why a Whiplash Injury May Not Show At the Accident Scene
There are many reasons why a whiplash may be undetectable at the scene of a crash. One reason is the adrenaline rush.
Adrenaline is the flight and fight hormone released by the brain as a defense mechanism in dangerous situations. In most cases, adrenaline masks the pain for minutes or even hours, and you only get to notice symptoms as it wears off.
Also, whiplash can be undetectable by X-rays and other scanning machines. That means the treating doctor may not detect a whiplash even when you go into the ER.
Most whiplash symptoms show within the first 24 hours after an accident. Sometimes they can take longer. Unfortunately, the longer a whiplash stays untreated, the worse it becomes, so you may need to see a doctor immediately after the symptoms appear.
Whiplash treatment can vary widely and depends on the severity of your injury. A minor injury can go away on its own after some time. However, you may need to see a doctor before ruling an injury as minor. Other times a doctor can treat your injury using:
- Prescribing anti-inflammatory and pain killers
- Physical therapy
- Support devices such as neck braces
- Steroid injections
- Alternative therapies, for example, chiropractic techniques and massage
Why Do You Need To See A Doctor Immediately After An Accident?
Whether or not your symptoms show immediately, it is important to get medical help at the accident scene or a hospital.
If your injuries are evident, early intervention means that your recovery time can reduce significantly. However, if you have no visible symptoms, the doctor may discharge you and advise you on what to look out for if symptoms manifest later.
Seeing the doctor after an accident is important for three reasons, including:
- Ensuring you get early medical intervention and ruling out internal injuries,
- Helping you create a connection between the accident and the injuries, and
- Providing documentation necessary when calculating damages.
It is important to note that failure to get to the hospital immediately after an accident gives the opposing side grounds to claim that your injuries are not related to the accident. And as a result, you may lose out on the compensation you deserve.