Motor vehicle accident victims in Georgia and around the country sometimes do not realize that they suffered a serious injury until days, weeks or even months have passed. It is hard to ignore broken bones, deep cuts or burns, but soft-tissue damage is easy to miss even for emergency room doctors. Whiplash injuries are especially challenging for medical professionals because they can be caused by low-speed collisions and rarely present any immediate symptoms. If left untreated, these injuries can lead to permanent neck damage, chronic pain and degenerative disc disease.
Whiplash injuries occur when the head moves backward and then forward very quickly. This causes the muscles and ligaments of the neck to extend beyond their normal limits, which can cause stretching and tearing. They are most commonly caused by rear-end automobile collisions. People who suffer this kind of soft-tissue injury often feel no or only slight discomfort in the immediate aftermath, but symptoms tend to get more severe and debilitating over time. These symptoms include headaches, shoulder pain, back and neck pain, numbness, disorientation and fatigue.
Diagnosis and treatment
Doctors presented with these symptoms often find it difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. This is because whiplash injuries cannot usually be detected by medical imaging technology, but a type of X-ray called computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging can detect trauma commonly associated with whiplash injuries like misaligned discs, torn ligaments and damage to the spinal cord. When a diagnosis is made, the most common forms of treatment for whiplash injuries are prescription or over-the-counter pain medications, muscle relaxants and physical therapy. If pain is severe, doctors may administer a lidocaine injection to numb the area.
Damages in car accident lawsuits
People injured in motor vehicle accidents often face crippling hospital bills and may be left unable to work for lengthy periods. When pursuing lawsuits on behalf of accident victims, experienced personal injury attorneys may advise their clients to consult with medical specialists to ensure that all of their injuries are diagnosed and treated. Medical experts could also provide attorneys with a more complete picture of their client’s situation to help them calculate appropriate damages for pain and suffering, health care expenses and lost income.