Neck pain is common after a car accident, even when the crash is minor. Whiplash happens when your head and neck are forced quickly forward and backward. It’s one of the most frequent injuries from a car accident.
How long neck pain lasts after an accident depends on:
- The severity of the accident
- The type of neck injury
- How you were seated in the car
- Your overall health condition
It’s important to understand how the force of a car accident can cause neck injuries.
How a Car Accident Hurts Your Neck
The impact of an accident can force your head suddenly and forcefully around. If you were wearing a seatbelt, your neck and torso might stay still as your head whips forward and back. This can cause severe stress and strain on your neck.
Whiplash can stretch, bruise, or tear the muscles and ligaments in your neck. This also puts pressure on your spine, which can lead to further injuries. If you were seated in a weird position during the accident, your neck pain could be worse.
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How Long Neck Pain Lasts After an Accident
Neck pain might not show up right away. After the accident happens, your body may be in “fight or flight” mode to handle the stress. Adrenaline and other hormones can temporarily suppress pain.
You might have pain right after the accident or within the next several days. It could take days for you to feel a neck injury completely. You could also have symptoms like:
- Headaches or migraines
- Blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness or tingling in the arms
Most of the time, neck pain goes away within a few weeks to a month. Pain typically subsides after that time. However, there are situations where the pain remains for longer.
If your neck pain and symptoms don’t get better or worsen, see your doctor. You could have more severe injuries that need prompt treatment. Spinal cord injuries are severe and common after a car accident.
Treatment for Neck Injuries
After an accident, see a doctor as soon as possible. Even minor neck pain could worsen quickly, so don’t wait. When you see a doctor, they will check you for possible injuries.
A doctor might call for the following to diagnose and treat neck pain:
- X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans
- Physical exams
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Rest and hot or cold therapy
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy
- Muscle relaxants
- Cervical collars
In extreme cases, neck pain might require surgeries or long-term care. It’s essential to know the full extent of your injuries, especially if someone else caused your accident. Document all neck pain, and contact your doctor if your injury worsens.
Types of Neck Injuries
Car accidents can cause a variety of neck injuries, including:
- Herniated discs
- Sprains, strains, or tears
- Neck or spine fractures
- Cuts or bruises to the neck
- Facet joint injuries
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Long-Term Effects of Neck Injuries
Neck pain is often minor, but there are cases where it can mean more. Untreated neck pain can become serious, so it’s vital to get treatment after an accident.
Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) are neck-related symptoms you might have after an accident. Pain from WAD can last for months or even years after a crash. Symptoms might include:
- Chronic headaches
- Long-term neck or back pain
- Mental disorders
Untreated neck pain can become serious quickly after an accident. That’s why it’s so important to see a doctor and get any treatment you need. If someone else caused your crash, you might also deserve financial compensation for your damages.
Common Damages from a Car Accident
If you were injured in an accident, you have rights. You might be able to file a personal injury claim to recover your damages. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-12-2, there are two main types of damages:
1. Special Damages
You must prove these damages to recover them. They include financial losses like:
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Vehicle repair costs
- Future medical treatment
Save all medical bills and other documents that prove these damages. You will need to include documentation in your personal injury claim to back up your losses. An experienced lawyer can also help you do this.
2. General Damages
Unlike special damages, general damages do not require monetary proof. These damages are about how the accident impacts your life, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
You will still need to put a dollar amount on these losses for your claim. If you have general damages, you’ll probably need help from a personal injury lawyer. They can determine the value of these and all other damages.
Neck pain from a car accident can last between a few days and a few weeks in most cases. However, more severe neck injuries can take much longer or lead to more long-term damage.
Always see a doctor after a car accident to rule out more severe damage. Also, contact a lawyer who can determine your compensation options.
Talk to an Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Today
After a car accident you didn’t cause, John Foy & Associates can help. We have over 20 years of experience helping car accident victims recover what they deserve. We also are not afraid to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. We are available 24/7 to take your call and get started.