“It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the abrupt stop at the end.”

You’ve probably heard that phrase before, and the same thing basically holds true of whiplash, which is one of the most common injuries people suffer in an automobile accident.

In the case of whiplash, it’s not the collision itself that hurts you, but the abrupt stop and rapid change in motion or direction that happens as a result of the collision.  Often (but not always) it’s the result of a rear end collision that sees you tossed about in the car, with your head being moved rapidly and unexpectedly back and forth.

When this happens, it causes the muscles and ligaments in your neck to stretch and extend, in addition to causing damage to the joints that are located between your vertebrae.  What makes matters worse is the fact that immediately following an accident that tosses you about like this, you may not feel any pain.  Some people do, but often, there will be a delay of 24 to 72 hours before the pain starts setting in.

Common symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Back, neck and shoulder pain
  • Stiffness and swelling
  • Headaches and bouts of dizziness
  • In some cases, burning sensations or numbness in the hands and arms

Those symptoms often lead to a raft of others, including an inability to concentrate or sleep, feelings of fatigue and irritability, and in some cases, problems with memory or depression.  Given the delay, many people try to “walk it off,” telling themselves that it can’t be all that serious, because it didn’t hurt immediately after the accident occurred.

That’s a mistake, and if you experience any of the symptoms described above in the days following an accident, you should see your doctor or chiropractor (or both) immediately.  Don’t suffer in pain needlessly, and don’t fail to get those symptoms checked out.  They could be signs pointing to an even more serious problem.