Whiplash is one of the most common injuries people experience after a car accident. It can occur to the driver and passengers alike, and approximately 2 million people in the United States experience whiplash each year, shares Live Science.

Whiplash refers to damage to the neck tissue and joints. In some cases, the intervertebral joints, which are in between the vertebrae, will sustain damage. It is also possible for nerve roots, cervical muscles, ligaments and discs to suffer to an extent. Occasionally, the symptoms of whiplash will only appear a day or two after the trauma, so you need to be aware of your body for several days following a car crash.

The immediate symptoms

Whiplash happens when your head and neck jolt forward and immediately backward, hitting the headrest. It is normal to feel neck pain and stiffness after a car accident, which is why you need to see a doctor right away. Treatment is available, and the sooner you can start it, the better off you will be. Other symptoms to watch out for in the immediate aftermath include:

  • Back pain
  • Arm pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic headaches
  • Shoulder stiffness and pain
  • Constant dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Visual disturbances
  • Arm weakness
  • Jaw pain, particularly in the temporomandibular joint

Long-term symptoms

Some people will develop whiplash-associated disorders. These can affect a number of anatomical structures in your body. The initial trauma may not seem like much, but it can result in long-term consequences. Some of the symptoms associated with these disorders include:

  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Drug dependency
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Constant frustration at the inability to perform certain tasks
  • Anger
  • Depression

These symptoms are the reasons why you need to pursue the claims process in earnest right away after a car accident. You may need to pay for medical treatment for years to come, and you have a right to damages.