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Getting in a car accident often results in soft tissue injuries that can be extremely painful and debilitating and might involve the advice of health care professionals and lawyers. A Soft Tissue Injury (STI) is the damage of muscles, ligaments, or tendons throughout the body and can result in pain, swelling, bruising or loss of function in the muscle, ligament or tendon. Soft tissue injuries can be the result of a fall or sudden twist, repeated overuse, or a blow to the body. One common type of soft tissue injury is whiplash as the result of a car accident.
Whiplash is the term used to describe a soft tissue injury to the neck as the result of a sudden acceleration-deceleration force, such as the force of a collision that occurs in car accidents. While whiplash is not typically a life threatening injury, it can lead to prolonged, and severe, disability. A person most commonly sustains whiplash as the result of a car accident when sitting in a stationary vehicle that is rear-ended by another moving vehicle. When a car is rear-ended, the impact can cause the seat to push the person’s torso forward and the head and neck backwards, causing the lower neck muscles to hyperextend, or extend beyond their normal limits, while the upper neck muscles hyperflex, or decrease in angle between the muscle and bone. When this happens, the neck is forced into an unnatural “S” shape that can cause soft tissue damage to the ligaments and muscles in the back and neck.
Symptoms of whiplash can take a couple of days after the car accident to manifest and are often varied. Some of the more common symptoms of whiplash from car accidents include neck, back, shoulder and arm pain or stiffness, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision and ringing in the ears. In more severe cases of whiplash, known as “whiplash associated disorders”, symptoms can extend to mental and emotion damage, including depression, anger or frustration, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and insomnia.
If you’ve sustained a soft tissue injury, especially if it is caused by a car accident, it is important to take steps in treating it immediately after the injury occurs to minimize tissue damage and reduce inflammation. First it is important to prevent further movement of the tissue that has been injured. In the case of whiplash, this often means applying a neck brace to the injured person right away. After the tissue has been protected, rest it from any activity that causes pain. To minimize pain and reduce swelling during the first 72 hours following an STI, ice the injured area for 15 minutes every 4 hours. After icing the injured tissue, apply pressure using bandages or compression tape and elevate the injured tissue to further prevent swelling. If pain and swelling to not decrease within 72 hours, it is important to visit a physician right away to investigate the injury further.
Treatment of whiplash differs from treatment of other types of soft tissue injuries in that immobilization of the neck muscle can actually cause more harm. Small rotational exercises or physical therapy can both help to heal whiplash and prevent it from progressing to a “whiplash associated disorder.”
If you are the victim of whiplash as the result of a car accident you should talk to a car accident lawyer about your case right away. Whiplash might cause you to be out of work for an extended period of time, and the bills that accumulate from doctors’ visits and physical therapy can be expensive. A car accident lawyer will be able to help you not only prove that your injury is the direct result from the car accident you were in, but also that you deserve compensation to pay for your injuries. If you’ve received whiplash from a car accident in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia, call the car accident lawyers at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.