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What Are the Symptoms of Late Whiplash Syndrome?

Senior male driver with whiplash injury standing by damaged car after traffic accident, reporting the incident to police with a cellphone.

Whiplash is a painful and debilitating car accident injury that affects the neck and shoulders. It occurs when a sudden force jerks the neck and head in a backward and forward motion. This motion can lead to damage to the muscles, discs, nerves, and tendons in the neck and cervical spine.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained by crash victims who are rear-ended. However, motorists can sustain whiplash from other types of car accidents. The symptoms typically manifest within 24 hours after a car accident. But in some cases, it can take longer for symptoms to appear.

What are common symptoms of a whiplash injury?

The most common whiplash symptoms include:

  • Severe headaches, often originating at the base of the skull.
  • Neck, shoulder, and back pain accompanied by stiffness and limited mobility.
  • Dizziness and feelings of instability.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Chronic pain and ongoing discomfort.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Discomfort in the jaw area.
  • Psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Increased sensitivity and irritability.
  • Difficulty sleeping or disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Trouble with memory and concentration.

In rare instances, severe whiplash may include symptoms such as:

  • Weakness in the arms or legs.
  • Severe pain.
  • Neck discomfort radiating into the shoulders and arms.
  • Visual impairment, including blurry vision.

What is late whiplash syndrome?

Late whiplash syndrome is a medical condition defined by the delayed onset of symptoms following a whiplash injury. It may manifest within weeks or months after a car accident. Research shows that between 14% and 42% of people who sustain whiplash develop chronic symptoms within six months.

Should I see a doctor?

Any acute pain in the neck and shoulders following a car accident or rear-end collision should not be disregarded. Whether the pain becomes apparent within minutes, days, or weeks after the incident, seeking medical treatment is crucial. Even if you're unsure whether your pain warrants a visit to a doctor, it's advisable to seek medical attention promptly. A doctor can assess your health and create an official record of your injury, which can serve as an essential piece of evidence when pursuing an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Diagnosis and treatment for late whiplash syndrome

When diagnosing your condition, a doctor will first check your medical history. This includes asking about previous injuries, accidents, and any symptoms you're currently experiencing. The doctor may also perform a physical examination to assess your range of motion, muscle strength, and areas of tenderness or discomfort.

In some cases, diagnostic imaging tests may be ordered to assess the extent of the injury. X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs can help identify structural abnormalities, such as herniated discs, fractures, or soft tissue damage.

Compliance with the prescribed treatment plan is crucial for recovery. Late whiplash syndrome treatment may include the following:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Chiropractic adjustments and spinal manipulations.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Heat and cold therapy.
  • Nerve blocks for pain relief.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Epidural steroid injections.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Activity modification.
  • Assistive devices such as neck braces or collars.

How do I file a whiplash injury claim?

If you're suffering from late whiplash syndrome, you have the right to recover compensation for your losses. This may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. When filing your claim, avoid speaking to the at-fault driver's insurance company. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster could be misinterpreted to reduce or deny your claim.

Insurance companies often downplay the severity of whiplash injuries, especially when symptoms appear at a later stage. If you avoid speaking to them, you give them fewer opportunities to dismiss your pain. Let an experienced car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC deal with the insurance companies on your behalf and protect your rights.

Our legal team can advocate on your behalf, deal with the insurance companies, and help ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact us and set up a free legal consultation. Our law office is in Rockville, Maryland, and we proudly serve clients throughout the DMV.

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