If you have been in a motor vehicle accident, you were smart to accept a medical evaluation on the scene and perhaps even head to the emergency room for a more thorough exam. You may decide to take a few days off work and soak in a warm bath to ease the sore muscles in your neck, shoulders and back. However, what happens if those days of rest do not help? What should you do if your back and neck pain only get worse?

You may be dealing with a whiplash injury. Whiplash is not the injury, however. Rather, it is the motion that occurs in your body when another vehicle strikes yours, especially from behind. Your torso may jerk forward with the force of the collision, but your head snaps back then forward, creating tremendous strain on the tissue and bones in the neck and spine. Even at low speeds, whiplash can cause serious injuries.

Symptoms

You may feel the injury right away, or it may not develop until a day or two later. You may experience a headache, stiffness in your neck and shoulders, and overall pain. The symptoms may subside after a week or so. However, you may have serious injuries if you experience any of the following:

  • Instability in your neck
  • Severe pain
  • Difficulty maintaining your balance
  • Dizziness or tinnitus
  • Weakness or numbness in your arms or hands
  • Changes in your mental health, including depression or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

Rest and over-the-counter pain relievers may help, but if your symptoms are severe, you may require more regimented treatment.

Severe whiplash

If your symptoms do not subside on their own with home remedies, you may find yourself returning to the doctor for additional help. In many cases, doctors may offer the following options to accident victims with ongoing symptoms:

  • Prescription muscle relaxants or narcotic pain relievers
  • Steroid injections between the affected joints
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic, certified massage therapy or acupuncture

These are only a few of the options your medical team may explore to relieve you of the pain and suffering from a whiplash injury. While you may find relief, many continue to suffer for months or years after an accident. This may mean time lost at work in addition to the costly medical treatment. If your whiplash injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may benefit from speaking with an attorney about your options for seeking compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering.