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What is cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome?

Most people know cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome by its more common name: Whiplash. Hollywood and television portray this literal pain in the neck as a way to obtain compensation from someone after an accident. The characters alleging this condition often end up portrayed as con artists or opportunists.

This puts a negative light on people who legitimately suffer from this condition, which most often occurs in rear-end collisions. During the impact, your neck moves violently forward and backward. The most common symptom does involve neck pain, but can involve other symptoms as well.

How whiplash occurs

When another vehicle strikes yours from behind, the following actions occur:

  • The impact pushes your seat into your back. That force pushes the vertebrae in your neck upward into your skull.
  • Since your torso remains in contact with the seat, it continues forward. However, you head remains stationary because it's not touching the seat. The compression that occurs could cause significant damage to your cervical spine and its components.
  • Your head then makes violent contact with the seat. This backward movement can damage the muscles, ligaments and other structures in the front of your neck.
  • Your head then quickly moves forward again after bouncing off the seat.
  • While your seat belt keeps your body immobile, your head thrusts forward violently causing damage to the back of the neck.

You may assume that the harder the impact, the more damage caused to your neck. That isn't always the case. Numerous factors determine the severity of your whiplash.

What other symptoms should you watch for other than neck pain?

As stated above, neck pain comprises just one symptom of whiplash. Others may include the following:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Decreased neck mobility
  • Pinched nerves
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of balance
  • Pain, numbness or tingling down through the arms and hands

You may also feel irritable or depressed. You could experience trouble sleeping or a reduction in your ability to concentrate, among other behavioral issues. You should see a doctor after any car accident, but if you experience any of these symptoms, you definitely need to go for a checkup.

Most people fully recover from whiplash within about three months. However, you may be one of the people who experiences lifelong effects, including chronic pain, numbness or tingling. Those effects could interfere with your ability to work or enjoy activities you loved prior to the crash.

Pursuing compensation for your injuries

You may be able to obtain compensation from the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended yours. Be sure to carefully review any settlement offers you may receive from an insurance company. Their primary goal is to pay as little as possible, which may not cover all of the medical and other expenses you incurred because of the accident and your subsequent injuries. You may need to consider legal action in a New Jersey civil court in order to receive the compensation you deserve depending on the situation.

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