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What you need to know about whiplash and car crashes

Whiplash is a common injury that can result from motor vehicle accidents. If another vehicle rear-ended yours, you can almost certainly expect to be feeling the effects of whiplash to some degree within the next few days. Knowing what to expect after a crash, as well as taking a few preventive measures, may help you and other Washington residents avoid the worst of the pain due to a whiplash injury.

Most often, whiplash occurs after a minor to moderate fender-bender, especially a rear-end collision. This type of injury involves the muscles, tendons and soft tissues of your neck and back and is caused when an impact jolts your head and neck violently back and forth. You might experience symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, pain in your shoulders and numbness or tingling in your arms and hands. You might also have problems with dizziness, irritability, concentration and sleeping.

It is common to feel fine for the first day or so following a minor accident, only to start feeling pain and stiffness soon after. The pain and loss of mobility from whiplash can last weeks or months and may require medical treatment. You might be able to reduce the effects of whiplash by taking the following measures:

  • See your doctor as soon as possible after an accident, no matter how minor. By taking x-rays and conducting an examination, your doctor may be able to detect an injury before you start to feel it and begin early treatment.
  • Wear a seatbelt every time you get in a car.
  • Make sure to position the rear head restraints on your vehicle's seats properly. The restraint should cushion the back of your head about the level of your ears. These restraints should prevent your head from whipping back and forth too severely in a collision.

Whiplash injuries are so common that many people do not seek medical treatment after a minor crash, instead choosing to wait out the pain. However, you should not feel as if you have to suffer through the pain of whiplash.

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