One of the injuries commonly associated with accidents involving 18-wheelers is that of whiplash. When an 18-wheeler hits a car from behind, it will cause the car to suddenly lurch forward. The impact of this sudden movement can cause the neck and head of the driver of the car to suddenly and rapidly jostle back and forth. Such motion can cause injuries to the neck of the driver, including damage to the joints, neck muscles, and even nerves. These injuries can lead to a large number of ongoing symptoms, notably neck pain, headaches, and general soreness, and sometimes even neurological symptoms such as numbness and a sensation of “pens and needles”; these symptoms may begin to show up days after the accident occurs.
Unfortunately, many people do not take whiplash seriously and assume that the soreness and pain will naturally subside with a few days of rest and pain reducing medication. Research exists demonstrating that nearly half of those who experience whiplash symptoms will continue to experience such symptoms for six months or longer. Moreover, severe cases of whiplash may involve serious structural injuries to the neck, such as disc herniation. A pre-existing neck or back injury may make it much more likely that one will suffer long-term consequences from whiplash. Nevertheless, any case of whiplash has the potential to turn into a months-long nightmare of constant, recurring headaches, neck pain, stiffness, and soreness.
What is more, some people believe that severe cases of whiplash will only occur when there has been some kind of high-speed highway wreck. This is not correct – even low-speed, parking lot type wrecks have enough force to cause whiplash.
Chronic whiplash symptoms are much harder to treat when there has been a delay in seeking medical attention. Therefore, it is essential for an accident victim to get medical attention for whiplash as soon as possible, ideally on the day of the accident. Since whiplash can occur in even non-severe, low-speed accidents and whiplash symptoms may not turn up until days after an accident has occurred, it is good advice for any accident victim to be looked over by a doctor. Whiplash usually cannot be diagnosed through standard X-ray imaging; CT scans and MRIs are often necessary.
Once a diagnosis has been made, there are several ways to go about treating whiplash to stave off recurrent symptoms. Obviously, pain medication can help to control symptoms. What is more, doctors can prescribe a rehabilitation program to reduce the risk for long-term complications. Such a program may include rotation and extension exercises, massage therapy, and various medications. Sometimes, extensive rehabilitation is necessary.
While whiplash is sometimes laughed off as a “minor injury”, there is a reason it is often included in pain and suffering awards in jury verdicts – it is a painful injury that can have recurring and long-lasting effects on the accident victim’s quality of life. As such, prompt medical treatment is highly advisable for anyone who has been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler.If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, Call Carabin Shaw we are here to help