Traumatic neck and spinal injuries are quite common as a result of car accidents, but few are as common as whiplash. This injury, which occurs when the driver or passengers in a vehicle jerk forward and then back with the force of the crash, can range from mild to severe.
The Mayo Clinic reports that while some incidents of whiplash can cause neck sprains and severe pain, others are not as obvious and individuals involved in motor vehicle accidents may want to remain watchful for the symptoms of this potentially dangerous injury.
New or worsening headaches
Individuals who experience new or worsening headaches after a car accident may want to see their doctor, as this symptom may point to untreated whiplash. These headaches often begin a few days to a week after the accident and may include:
- Pain at the base of the skull
- Stiffness with accompanying headache
- Headaches that spread to other areas of the head
Some headaches can last for hours and interfere with daily activities, so it is important to speak to a doctor regarding potential whiplash.
Reduced range of motion
When whiplash occurs, it may often reduce the range of motion in its victims, especially those involved in high-speed rear-end crashes. This may cause a reduced ability to turn the head and the neck’s overall normal range of motion. Pain and stiffness may also occur when those who suffer from whiplash exceed the neck’s new limited ROM.
Untreated whiplash may cause pain to spread to other areas of the body, such as the arms and shoulders. The risk of long-term complications may increase with the victim’s age and physical condition before the crash.