You came to a stop at an intersection, or perhaps you slowed down because traffic in front of you was stopping for construction or an accident. Whatever your reason for stopping, without warning, the car behind you did not slow down in time and slammed into the back of your vehicle. Your car lurched forward and perhaps even struck the vehicle in front of you.
The damage may have been minimal, and a medical team checked you out. You had no broken bones, and aside from some bruises, you may have seemed fine. A day or so later, you began to feel pain, and you knew something wasn't right. What you experienced is a type of soft tissue injury known as a cervical sprain, which is a common injury in rear-end collisions.
Symptoms of a cervical sprain
A cervical sprain used to be known as whiplash. You may have seen characters on TV shows faking whiplash to win a personal injury lawsuit, but suffering from a whiplash injury is no laughing matter. A cervical sprain can happen even at low speeds, and the damage can produce pain and discomfort that are disruptive to your life. Some of the symptoms of a cervical sprain include the following:
- Dull, aching neck pain and stiffness
- Persistent headaches
- Pain in your back
- Dizziness and trouble maintaining balance
- Issues with memory and concentration
You may experience any of these symptoms for weeks or even longer. Some victims of whiplash suffer with related issues for more than a year, and others may endure chronic pain for the rest of their lives.
Treatment for cervical sprain
Your physician may refer you to a specialist, such as a back expert, neurologist or chiropractor. To relieve the pressure and to immobilize the neck, you may wear a cervical collar or a neck brace. A combination of physical therapy, massage therapy and prescription muscle relaxants may help to relieve the pain. If your injury is severe, traction or surgery may be required to repair damaged ligaments or muscles.
The difficulty with a whiplash injury is the reason why TV shows are so easily able to use it as an example of fraud. The symptoms of a cervical injury may not be present until days after the accident, and they may persist long after a physician decides you should be feeling better. For this reason, you may find it helpful to enlist the aid of a skilled attorney who has experience helping victims of rear-end collisions. Such an attorney will be able to guide you in seeking compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and suffering.