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Painful and slow to heal, whiplash injuries frequently suffered in car accidents

Injuries to the neck and spine are among the most difficult to treat and slow to heal of all physical injuries. They are also extremely common injuries that are frequently suffered by individuals who are involved in motor vehicle accidents. For individuals who are personally or who have a loved one dealing with a neck or back injury after a car accident, it's important to understand how such injuries occur and why they are so slow to heal.

The neck and spine is composed of a "long chain of bones, discs, muscles and ligaments that extends from the base of the skull to the tip of the tailbone." Together these muscles, bones and discs form the spine; the health and function of which an individual depends on to be able to move about easily, freely and without pain.

When an individual is involved in a car accident, his or her head typically thrusts forward while a seat belt ensure that one’s body does not follow. Depending on the type of crash and the speed at which the vehicles involved are traveling, a driver's or passenger's head may jerk violently forward, backward and to the side several times and with great force.

The resulting injuries to the neck and spine occur when ligaments and muscles are strained and joints and discs damaged. Whiplash is among the most common neck and spine injury suffered after a car accident and the extent of whiplash injuries aren’t often fully apparent until days or even weeks after an accident.

From stiffness and soreness in the neck to acute nerve pain in the neck and/or upper or lower back, whiplash injuries can vary greatly in severity and can take weeks or months to heal. In some cases, these types of injuries can lead to the development of chronic neck and back pain which can severely impede an individual's ability to participate in activities and enjoy life. 

Source: KnowYourBack.org, "Whiplash and Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAS)," Aug. 24, 2015

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