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How to know if you have whiplash after a car accident

Whiplash can occur in a variety of ways. However, most people experience it after a car accident. Ford recently issued a recall for 1.5 million F-150 pickup trucks due to a transmission issue that can cause the vehicles to lurch forward when downshifting. This can lead to whiplash. 

Whiplash occurs when a person's head violently jerks forward and then backward. In the minutes after the collision, you may not realize your head or neck is in any pain due to the rush of adrenaline. It could take several days to realize something is wrong. That is why you need to see a doctor right away and remain vigilant of common whiplash symptoms. 

Signs of whiplash

You should never assume a headache after a car accident will go away on its own. It is possible it is a sign you have suffered whiplash. Other symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chronic fatigue and irritability
  • Trouble remembering key events and concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain or numbness in the shoulder blades, hands or arms

Diagnosis of whiplash

You need to inform your doctor if you suspect you have whiplash. The doctor will order an imaging test to determine whether the tissue in a given area has sustained damage. It is typically a simple X-ray, but some doctors prefer to use an MRI or a CT scan. 

Treatment for whiplash

Once a doctor has confirmed you have whiplash, you can then pursue more advanced treatments. Some people will be perfectly fine if they take over-the-counter pain relievers and partake in gentle exercises. Certain patients have also found relief with ultrasound, injections and ice therapy. Many find complications of whiplash gradually go away on their own within a few weeks or months. However, some people never recover fully from their injury. 

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