What to do about a whiplash injury. Diagnosis and possible treatments explained.
In years gone by, people suffering from whiplash were often likely to be dismissed out of hand, labelled a hypochondriac and told to get on with their life. The reason, for what now seems like ridiculous scepticism, was that whiplash injuries do not produce any visible damage and fail to appear on X-rays. As a result, some doctors were reluctant to diagnose whiplash, thus affording their patients no practical help whatsoever.
Thankfully, recent years have seen technological advances and a change in attitudes, and nowadays doctors and medical professionals are far more likely to diagnose whiplash and advise as to the best possible treatment available.
If you have been involved in a car accident, or indeed any type of incident that could have exposed you to the risk of receiving a whiplash injury, it is essential that you visit your GP to get yourself checked over. If, for some reason you are unable to see your doctor, it could be worthwhile popping along to your local A&E.
If you think you may be suffering from whiplash, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to sort the problem out yourself with homemade collars or self-diagnosis. As discussed previously, whiplash is not the easiest condition to identify and so what you think may be just whiplash could actually turn out to be something far more serious.
Going to see the doctor
The doctor will examine your neck, back and head in an attempt to discover if you have sustained a whiplash injury. He may also order an x-ray to be taken to ensure that there are no fractures to the numerous bones that make up the spine.
Depending on the severity of the whiplash, the doctor might recommend a CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scan or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. These are painless imaging tests that can show the condition of the various soft tissue components of the spine, and the results will help the doctor assess the severity of the injury.
With almost all but the most serious of whiplash injuries, the doctor will provide a soft cervical collar that may need to be worn for several days. It will immobilise the neck, prevent excessive movement and aid the recovery of the damaged tissue. He might also prescribe medication such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories, and may suggest a range of physical therapies.
Physical therapies could include electrical stimulation, ice, heat, ultrasound and motion exercises, and are used to increase blood circulation, reduce muscle spasms and bring about the onset of recovery.
The majority of people suffering from whiplash can expect to be back to full health within two to four weeks, but some may find their symptoms continuing for longer. If this is the case, a doctor may suggest that a cervical traction device is worn. A type of halter, it will allow the wearer to continue to work, but will provide even less movement than the traditional soft collar.
If all the above measures have been taken and after six to eight weeks the symptoms have not improved or have actually worsened, it is likely that further X-rays and scans will be made. There is a possibility that the intervertebral discs could have been harmed by the over-extension sustained during the initial accident, and surgery may be required. (See ‘The Future for Whiplash Sufferers’ for further information about surgical intervention.)
Receiving compensation after a whiplash injury
Even if you do fully recover from your whiplash injury in a couple of weeks, you could be within your rights to make a personal injury claim to compensate you for the pain caused and the hassle that you’ve been put through. If the accident wasn’t your fault, our experienced solicitors are waiting to help you start making that claim today.
So give us a ring on 0808 143 43 42 and let our friendly and knowledgeable experts give you free legal advice and assess your claim within minutes. We won’t charge you now, and we won’t charge you in the future; we work on a no win, no fee basis and our service is completely free. You can even keep 100% of any compensation awarded, so call us today and begin your hassle-free compensation claim.