From errands and work commutes to travel and touring, millions of Minnesotans rely on their cars every day to get from point A to point B. Unfortunately, even the best drivers may find themselves the victim of an accident. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, over 170,000 people in the state were involved in a traffic-related crash in 2018 alone. 

Even a relatively minor incident can result in serious injury, and the extent of physical damage may not be obvious immediately afterward. This is particularly true of whiplash, a common auto injury where a sudden impact, for instance from a rear-end collision, causes the head to jerk rapidly back and forth, sometimes leading to severe straining and spraining of the neck. 

What are potential signs of whiplash? 

Also known as neck strain or hyperextension, whiplash is a soft-tissue injury that may affect any number of the delicate parts of the neck, including the joints between vertebrae, ligaments, discs, muscles and nerve roots. The most common symptoms include: 

  • Pain or stiffness of the neck, shoulders or lower back 
  • Dizziness or problems with memory and balance 
  • Pain or numbness in the arm or hand 
  • Ringing ears or blurred vision 

Those with whiplash may also experience depression, fatigue, irritability or insomnia. While symptoms often develop within 24 hours, they may not emerge for several days or even several weeks after the injury. 

What is the treatment for whiplash? 

Treatment may include anti-inflammatory or pain medications, muscle relaxants, antidepressants or temporary use of a supportive cervical collar. A physician may also recommend physical therapy and range of motion exercises.  

While patients generally recover within one to three months, in some cases complications may lead to issues with chronic pain and headaches that last for years after an injury. Those who experience neck pain or other symptoms after a car accident should visit a doctor as soon as possible for full evaluation. 

From emergency medical costs and wages lost during recovery to debilitating, persistent chronic pain, even injuries that seem relatively minor at first may have repercussions that last long into the future. Those who have experienced an auto injury may be able to seek much-needed reimbursement by working with a knowledgeable lawyer to file a personal injury claim.