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Whiplash and Pain

In my line of business it has always amazed me the nature of people to endure and cope with pain. Over the years I have treated so many different types of injuries and conditions. One of these types of injuries which stand out more more so than others are road traffic victims who suffer from a term known as Whiplash. This type of injury is caused by a sudden exaggerated thrust of the head backward, forward and sometimes sideways. Whiplash often occurs during a rear-end auto accident, but it can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.

Abnormally strong forces are exerted on muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and eyes as the head moves beyond normal physical limits. There may be no visible bruises or abrasions from this type of injury yet victims report similar symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of whiplash usually develop within 24 hours of the injury and may include:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement
  • Loss of range of movement in the neck
  • Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
  • Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms

The amount of pain that a victim is suffering can vary significantly from minimal intermittent pain to constant severe crippling pain. I use a method called the VAS (visual analogue scale) for victims to gauge their pain levels. This scale range is between 0(no pain at all) to 100(maximal pain).

Strangely enough I have found that the intensity or force of the accident does not necessarily equate to the injuries suffered by the victims. That may be because of the victims sitting position on impact or the angle that the car was hit at. Whatever the case if the people involved in the accident were not wearing seat belts the outcome is far far worse. When you see those disturbing ads on the television it is the reality of road traffic accidents. It is not an exaggeration.

Whenever I assess RTA victims I need to get a detailed account of what happened to them to get a proper picture of what I am dealing with. Outcomes range from minor neck strains to paralysis, amputations, disfigurement and death of other victims involved.

Anyway getting back to my point, all these people suffer from pain at one level or another. The problem with whiplash victims is that their pain can last for a few days and in less common cases up to 2 years. Coping with this pain differs from one person to another. This can happen because of different factors such as age, health,personality type,occupation and lifestyle. I find that people who recover quicker have a positive mental attitude and try to get on with their lives despite their setbacks. With my clients especially the ones with chronic back pain that has been ongoing for longer periods I tend to home in on pain management. Essentially what I am saying is that the pain is not going away today or tommorow. Eventually it will with appropriate treatment so let’s deal with managing it in the best way we can in the here and now.