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If you have been involved in a car accident, whiplash injuries need to be taken very seriously. Because symptoms of a whiplash injury can take weeks or months to manifest, it is easy to be fooled into thinking that you are not as injured as you really are.Too often people don't seek treatment following a car accident because they don't feel hurt. By far, the most common injury to the neck is a whiplash injury.Whiplash is caused by a sudden movement of the head, either backward, forward, or sideways, that results in the damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments and other connective tissues in the neck and upper back.Unfortunately, by the time more serious complications develop, some of the damage from the injury may have become permanent.Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries. If you have been in a motor vehicle or any other kind of accident, don't assume that you escaped injury if you are not currently in pain. Contact us today!

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Numerous studies have shown that years after whiplash victims settle their insurance claims, roughly half of them state that they still suffer with symptoms from their injuries.

What are the most common symptoms of whiplash?

There are some symptoms that are present in nearly every case of whiplash. The following is a list of the ten most-reported symptoms, with their estimated prevalence:

* Neck pain (97%)

* Headache (97%)

* Shoulder pain (65%)

* Anxiety (55%)

* Back pain (42%)

* Depression (41%)

* Visual symptoms (35%)

* Thoracic outlet syndrome (33%)

* Dizziness (23%)

How long does a typical whiplash injury take to heal?

It depends. First of all, there is no such thing as a typical whiplash injury. There are so many different variables (see risk factors, below) involved in a collision that it's not uncommon for two people to be in the same vehicle, and suffer different degrees of injury. Therefore, the healing time also varies greatly. Some people who have experienced a rear-end collision may suffer symptoms for just a few hours. Most people seem to recover in around six weeks. But the medical literature consistently shows that a significant percentage of people -- around one out of three experience some kind of long-term symptoms after a crash.

What's the best way to treat a whiplash injury?

It depends on the severity of the injury and the patient's needs. Very few whiplash injuries require surgical treatment or a hospital stay, but many whiplash patients go the emergency room as their first treatment, especially if the collision was severe. Drugs are often prescribed for whiplash patients, and they can be useful for short-term relief of pain. Long-term use of medications, however, can lead to dependency, and they drugs themselves do not help the injured tissues heal. The key to long-term health of the soft-tissues after injury is mobilization of the affected areas. This is best accomplished with spinal manipulation and muscular therapy, either alone or in combination.

What are the risk factors for long-term injury from a rear-end collision?

There are hundreds of them. A recent engineering study attempted to predict which variables would result in injury in their test occupants exposed to low speed crashes. Even when taking into account 18 different measurable factors, their predictions were only 70% accurate. Over the past twenty years, researchers have compiled a list of factors and variables believed to influence the risk of injury.

* The angle of the collision.

* The speed and size of the vehicles involved.

* Road conditions.

* Occupant head position.

* Gender. Women are more likely to be injured than are men.

* Occupant awareness. An occupant who is aware of the impending impact is less likely to suffer long-term consequences, as they have time to "brace" themselves for the impact, lessening the severity of injury to the soft-tissues of the neck.

* The proper use of head restraints.

* Safety belts. Some researchers have suggested that seatbelts may increase the risk of injury in rear-end collision. (NOTE: Seat belts save many lives each year, and the potential life-saving ability of seatbelts far outweighs the slight risk of increased injury during a "minor" collision. You should always wear your seatbelt.)

* Secondary collisions.

* Direct body impact.

* Loss of consciousness.

* Medical history. Pre-existing health conditions can increase the risk of injury.

* Pain onset. Generally, when symptoms appear immediately after the collision, healing takes longer.

Can a low speed collision (less than 10 mph) result in injury?

Yes. Nearly all engineers refuse to conduct rear-end test collisions over 5 mph because of the possibility of injury to the test occupants. For many years in the scientific community, it was believed that injury was impossible in low speed collisions, since the typical motion of the head seen during a higher speed collision did not occur. In the last few years, however, a whole new body of literature has shown that the cervical spine may actually be more at risk from a low speed collision than a higher speed collision.

How do I find a practitioner that can effectively treat my injuries?

You can search for practitioners that specialize in personal injury here.

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