Five things to know about whiplash

Car crashes happen every day. The fatality rates are alarming, and car crash injuries are one of the leading causes of injuries in the U.S. Statistically, for every person who dies in a car crash, approximately eight people are hospitalized and 100 people go to the emergency room to be treated. But not all injuries are obvious at the time of the accident. Whiplash is one of the injuries that can turn up hours, days and even weeks later. It's one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents, usually caused by front- or rear-impact crashes.

Why didn't I notice at the time?

You may have felt perfectly fine after the crash, but then woke up the next morning to severe back or neck pain. This can be due to the rush of adrenaline that accompanies the accident, or you may be someone who tends to be tough in times of crisis or who has a high pain threshold. No matter the reason for the delayed reaction, you're probably miserable and wondering if you can get to work.

Whiplash has different causes and symptoms

Here are some of the key things to know about whiplash injury:

  1. You don't have to be driving at high speeds to experience whiplash after a crash. In fact, you can get the injury going as slowly as 10 miles per hour. Whether the injury is more serious or not can depend on whether you're wearing a seatbelt. So, remember to wear yours.
  2. Some symptoms of whiplash, in addition to neck pain, are blurred vision, headaches, fatigue and dizziness. If you experience any symptoms, get checked by a doctor.
  3. If you're older, your risk of more severe whiplash goes up due to less flexible discs and ligaments and reduced muscle mass. Anyone who has arthritis or has experienced neck and back problems before the accident is also at a higher risk.
  4. After whiplash, it's now thought that rest is advised for only a short period of time. Getting back to a normal, active routine is important so that neck, back and shoulder muscles don't become weaker. (Of course, follow your doctor's specific advice on this.)
  5. Whiplash can also result from falls and high-impact sports like football and gymnastics.

If you're in a car accident, always get checked out by a doctor to make sure there are no underlying injuries. 

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