3 Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash After a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident

As a car accelerates and decelerates in an accident, your head can whip back and forth. Whiplash injuries result from strain on your neck during the collision. 

Whiplash can cause chronic or recurring health problems. It can also accompany more serious conditions like spinal cord injuries and brain injuries.

Here are three signs and symptoms of whiplash after a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Causes of Whiplash

Whiplash results from the forces your body experiences in a collision. The collision often comes from a car accident. But whiplash can also happen in slip and fall accidents, pedestrian accidents, or even an assault.

Newton’s laws of motion say that an object in motion tends to stay in motion until they are acted upon by an outside force. In a car accident, your chest hits the seatbelt. But your head keeps moving. Your head only stops when your neck pulls it to a stop.

Your head weighs about 11 pounds. According to Newton’s laws of motion, actions produce equal and opposite reactions. When your neck pulls your head to a stop, your head pulls back with at least 11 pounds of force.

This force on your neck causes it to hyperextend. This stretches the ligaments holding the seven vertebrae in your neck. This force can also stretch the muscles and tendons connecting your head to your shoulders and back.

As your neck stops your head, it snaps back. The neck vertebrae collide with each other. These collisions can fracture the vertebrae and crush the discs between the vertebrae.

Three Signs and Symptoms of Whiplash

This whipping of your neck between hyperextension and contraction can damage the structures in the neck. Some signs and symptoms of injuries caused by whiplash include:

Muscle Pain

As your head whips back and forth after an accident, your neck experiences powerful forces. These forces can stretch or tear the ligaments holding the vertebrae and skull in place. Ligaments connect vertebrae. At the top of the neck, ligaments connect vertebrae to the skull.

The whipping can also stretch and tear muscles and tendons. Long muscles connect your skull to your clavicles. When the neck stretches, the muscles and the tendons connecting these muscles to your skull and clavicles can stretch or tear.

As a result of all this ligament, tendon, and muscle damage, you might experience pain and limited motion in your:

  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back

Doctors usually treat this pain with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Numbness or Tingling

The nerves connecting your hands and arms to your brain pass through your neck. When the neck hyperextends and rebounds, the vertebrae and discs can move out of place and compress nerves in your spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries can produce a range of symptoms, including:

  • Paralysis
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle weakness

In severe cases, whiplash might sever nerves leading to paralysis. In moderate and mild cases, you might experience numbness or tingling sensations in your fingers, hands, or arms.

Headache

The motion that causes whiplash can also cause a concussion. As your head whips back and forth, your brain sloshes inside your head. The pressure inside your skull caused by the sloshing can damage brain cells and cause the brain to become inflamed.

Symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Tinnitus
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Memory loss

Whiplash does not cause a concussion or vice versa. Instead, they both result from the whipping motion of your neck and head.

Side Effects of Whiplash

Whenever you experience neck strain during an accident, you should visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons might not heal without treatment, resulting in chronic pain and permanent loss of motion. Nerve damage might also produce chronic or recurring symptoms. Most concussion symptoms subside after about two months. But some cases evolve into a post-concussion syndrome that lasts for years.

Visiting a doctor could help you manage your symptoms to reduce the risk of long-term effects.