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Whiplash from a car accident can be a serious injury

Whiplash is an injury that occurs when a person's head is violently thrown back and forwards. The rapid motion can cause damage to the spine, muscles, ligaments and nerves in the neck. The soft disks between neck vertebrae can also be damaged. Rear-end car accidents are the most common cause of whiplash injuries.

Whiplash injuries can result in severe headaches, as well as stiffness and pain to the neck. Although many people make a full recovery, many others experience chronic pain and stiffness on an ongoing basis.

Doctors will often prescribe physical therapy and exercise for whiplash patients. The exercises will typically include movement and stretching activities that are intended to restore the patient's range of motion. Ice, heat and over-the-counter pain medications may also be recommended. In cases of severe pain, a physician may authorize the use of a prescription pain medication for a short period of time.

Years ago the cervical foam collar was commonly prescribed for whiplash victims. Research has shown, however, that the use of a collar can actually inhibit recovery by allowing the muscles in the neck to weaken from lack of use. Today, when physicians recommend use of a cervical collar, they will often restrict its use to three hours at a time during the first week after the injury, or when sleeping at night.

Whiplash injuries can be debilitating and painful. When a negligent driver causes a rear-end collision, occupants of the vehicle that was struck have the right to seek compensation for the injuries they have suffered. Victims may be able to recover damages to compensate them for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Diseases and Conditions: Whiplash," accessed Oct. 20, 2015

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