Rear-end accidents, where one vehicle smashes into the back of another, are some of the more common crashes on U.S. roadways. These collisions also routinely cause whiplash. Without complications, whiplash is usually not a serious condition.
Indeed, even though whiplash is likely to be excruciatingly painful for a few weeks, the condition generally goes away on its own. Sometimes, though, whiplash can involve a potentially catastrophic spinal cord injury.
What is the link between whiplash and spinal cord damage?
The vertebrae in your neck protect your spinal cord from injury. Regrettably, though, whiplash can cause these bones to shift and move too close to your spinal cord. If that happens, your spinal cord might compress, disrupting nerve signals as they travel from your brain to the rest of your body.
What are the symptoms of a whiplash-associated spinal cord injury?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, cervical myelopathy involves compression of the spinal cord in the neck. If you have cervical myelopathy, you might experience any of the following symptoms:
- Neck or back pain
- Arm or leg pain
- Loss of movement or sensation in your arms or legs
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
While these symptoms can vary in severity, you should not expect them to improve. Indeed, cervical myelopathy often worsens over time, potentially leading to temporary or even permanent paralysis.
Even though it might be tempting to take a wait-and-see approach to whiplash, you should not take your chances with a potential spinal cord injury. Ultimately, it is imperative for you both to treat cervical myelopathy as a medical emergency and to receive prompt care.