Medicolegal Partners receive instructions on a significant number of personal injury claims related to road traffic accidents. Many of the chronic pain conditions which exist long after the index event are caused by whiplash injuries that may seem relatively minor at the time.
Whiplash is often caused by rear-end motor vehicle accidents inflicting sudden distortions of the neck, resulting in injuries to the intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerve roots. Other causes of whiplash injuries include contact sport injuries and repetitive stress injuries involving the neck, such as holding a phone between the cheek and neck.
The background of the injury and the patient’s description of the symptoms are important to understand to reach a diagnosis. An MRI or a CT scan does not usually reveal a whiplash injury and an x-ray will normally be performed if there is the possibility of a fracture or dislocation in the cervical spine.
Generally, the first line of treatment adopted for whiplash patients will be conservative. Over the counter analgesic medication will help relieve any pain and continued movement of the neck is helpful along with controlled neck exercises to reduce stiffness. Ice-packs or a warm compress can help.
Whiplash Link to Chronic Pain
In some case, sufferers of whiplash continue developing symptoms far beyond a usual prognosis for recovery. Whiplash that lasts longer than six months is known as chronic whiplash. Continual headaches and pain, reduced movement at the back of the neck, tingling in arms, lumbar pains, fatigue, sleep disturbances and reduced libido are all regularly reported by patients suffering with chronic whiplash.
Some serious chronic pain disorders, such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), myofascial pain syndrome and fibromyalgia, can sometimes have a whiplash component during the index event, suggesting a possible shock to the nervous system during the impact.
It’s important that claimants are made aware of the possible long term complications from what may seem to be a relatively minor injury and that they seek a comprehensive prognosis as well as a diagnosis.
With more than 1,500* whiplash injury claims being made in the UK every day, costing the insurance industry more than £2bn a year, identifying fraudulent claims at the outset of a claim is in the best interests of everyone. However, it is equally if not more important, that those individuals with a genuine claim who go on to develop serious symptoms get the support and advice they need to receive the right course of treatment and any associated compensation.
Dr Jenner and Dr Ramos-Galvez offer consultations within 7 days and a full report within 4 weeks. Both experts are skilled consultants in pain medicine who specialise in the treatment of CRPS. If you would like to instruct them, please contact 0207 118 0650, firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our contact page.