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Is whiplash a real medical condition associated with accidents?

Being involved in a car accident or any other accident that causes your head to snap forward and backward can lead to whiplash. While some people think that whiplash is nothing more than a sham, it is actually a medical condition that can be very serious.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a neck injury that occurs because of the violent flinging of the head forward and backward. It is often associated with rear-end collisions but can occur in almost any type of accident. In some cases, the muscles and tendons in the neck can tear. In severe, but rare, cases, broken bones can occur. Nerve damage is also possible.

What symptoms are common with whiplash?

Whiplash can cause a variety of symptoms. Most of these symptoms are centered around the neck. You might notice that your neck hurts. It might be difficult to move your head around normally. Stiffness in the neck, a headache, back pain and dizziness are also possible.

Do these symptoms occur right away?

No, whiplash symptoms don't necessarily occur right away. These symptoms may not show up until the day after the accident. In some cases, the symptoms might come and go.

How is whiplash treated?

Whiplash is usually treated with medications, exercises and physical therapy. It can take up to three months for treatments to work. In severe cases, treatment might last six to 12 months.

If you have been diagnosed with whiplash because of an accident, you might choose to seek compensation for the injury. Learning about the process for filing your claim is one of the first steps you can take.

Source: WebMD, "Whiplash - Topic Overview," accessed July 27, 2015

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