Back and neck pain after a car accident - it's whiplash. Here's what to do next.
Sure, the car accident didn’t seem all that bad – you survived. No broken bones, nothing torn, no gruesome wounds or visible catastrophic trauma. At the time? No major injuries. But how would you classify delayed pain in the upper back or neck marring your day-to-day life, lingering for months or even years? How many times have you had to say no because you’ve got that back thing? Or jarring headaches ruining your concentration?
The incremental decline of your overall health nagging and piling on every day is a major injury. You suffered whiplash because of an accident and you DO have the power to do something about it.
1. Recognize the signs and symptoms of whiplash: back pain, neck & shoulder pain, headaches
What happens in a car accident: the whipping back and forth movement of your neck from a rear-end or front-end collision strains muscles unnaturally. Suffer whiplash after a crash and you can expect stiffness, headaches, neck and even lower or middle back pain. In severe whiplash cases you’ll be suffering immediately or within hours. Sometimes the pain is SO chronic you’ll be dealing with:
- Nausea & stomach discomfort
- Extreme fatigue & constantly tired
These are BAD signs. It could take 24 hours after or more for the symptoms to appear—and for whiplash to settle in long term if you let it.
Expect these types of neck and back pain after a car accident:
- Lower back pain
- Upper back pain
- Mid back pain
- Delayed back pain
- Mild back pain
- Burning back pain
- Bad or severe neck pain
- Lumbar back pain
- Thoracic back pain
- Chronic & constant back pain
- Extreme back pain
- Pain in the left or right side of the neck
- Sore neck
- Muscle soreness
- Chest pain
- Neck & shoulder pain
- Back of head and neck pain
- Cervical neck pain
- Head & neck pain
- Lower neck pain
- Recurring neck pain
- Nagging or slight neck pain
- Upper neck pain
How long will whiplash symptoms last after a car accident?
Depends on the severity of the whipping action on your neck/head. Sometimes the pain from a whiplash injury will wear off after a couple weeks, other times it will linger and recur weeks, months or even years later. But the pain associated with whiplash doesn’t always go away. You can cross your fingers and hope to get rid of it in a few days or weeks, but don’t get your hopes up.
How long back pain lasts after a crash depends on a ton of different variables. Pre-existing factors like age, prior wear and tear like arthritis, existing neck & back pain can exacerbate things. Every person has a different threshold for pain tolerance and ability to rehabilitate and recover.
All the more reason to loop in a professional.
If the symptoms are there, see a doctor ASAP.
Can’t just walk this one off. You don’t know what’s going on under the skin. You can’t stretch off permanent back or neck problems. Pretty soon you’ll be compensating for the biting pain and causing problems elsewhere.
2. Treatment of whiplash after an injury in an accident – you can’t ignore it. Get better ASAP.
There are steps you can take to alleviate pain with exercises and other home remedies to get by, but don’t expect to ever heal completely without professional medical care. Good luck getting over excruciating or nagging pain without seeing a doctor. The long term effects of whiplash are too impactful to ignore and the cure can be elusive.
Successfully treating the symptom means getting a crystal clear diagnosis of the injury.
Diagnosing back and neck pain after an accident
What causes back pain after an accident? Possibilities:
- Lumbar sprains. Caused by too much force on the back after getting rear-ended or a side impact collision. When ligaments, tendons and muscles overstretch they become sprained or strained.
- Disc herniation/slipped disc. Herniated discs occur when the soft filling of the spinal disc protrudes the outer casing. You may not feel much pain initially, but when the exposed filling comes in contact with surrounding nerves, there’s plenty of pain.
- Spinal stenosis. The narrowing of the channel housing the spinal nerves & spinal cord. After an accident a disc or bone fragment can rupture and enter the spinal canal area. The nerves feel the pressure and you get acute pain.
- Facet joint injuries. The facet joint prevents the spine from moving too far in any direction. Damage to facet joints will cause spasms in certain directions depending on the affected area. Often confused with spinal disc issues.
What to do for back and neck pain after a car accident
Over the counter pain meds, ice and rest are the tried and true go-to for mild cases of whiplash to relieve pain in the neck, shoulders, back and head after an accident. When symptoms persist and it’s clear home remedies and half-measure treatments aren’t doing it you’ll need to step up the care.
How to relieve pain depends on the diagnosis, your body, and specific recommendations from a medical professional.
All of this costs money – money you NEVER chose to burn on recovery time and rehabilitation.
3. Fight for compensation – a settlement you deserve to recoup medical expenses.
From extreme back & neck pain to delayed back and neck pain affecting you for months to years after an accident – you have a case to sue for damages. This is why you pay insurance premiums. No accident is small or minor enough to exempt insurance companies from being accountable.
The cost of injuries due to whiplash after a motor vehicle accident goes beyond the dollars and cents siphoned from your bank account into the pockets of those responsible. How many times have you said “no” and sat on the sidelines as friends and family enjoyed summer activities, or had to depend on others for help because your back or neck is acting up? Or missed rent, got behind on debts or canceled plans because medical bills are bankrupting you?
This is NOT normal. It hurts. Fighting for your compensation is not an inconvenience, it’s your right. Your duty is to stand up for yourself and get the settlement needed to compensate your pain and suffering.
Statute of limitations on claiming a car accident injury: how long you have to make a claim
Every state is different. In some states it’s only 1 year, in others it’s up to 6. You’ll need to contact an attorney near you to verify and ensure you’ve got a solid case and good reason to sue.
Wisconsin statute of limitations for claiming a car accident injury
In the state of Wisconsin, the statute of limitations to report an injury in a car accident is 3 years (Wisconsin Statues section 893.54). Same goes if the car accident results in someone’s death and the claimer is seeking a wrongful death case. The difference is the 3-year period begins on the date of the death rather than the accident.
Your approach to filing a claim is paramount to maximizing the settlement.
Don’t do this on your own. Get an experienced, successful personal injury lawyer on your side to begin fighting and get every last penny you’re owed for your pain and suffering. It matters.