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Whiplash And Associated Disorders - Is It All In The Head, Rather Than The Back?

Jan 24, 2008
Most of us are aware that whiplash injuries generally involve neck pain, shoulder-pain and headaches, but how many of us are aware of the associated disorders that can also accompany an injury of this sort?

The majority of patients who suffer a whiplash injury tend to recover after a few weeks or, at most, a few months. However, between 15 to 20% of sufferers go on to develop other symptoms such as chronic back-pain, sleep problems, poor concentration, poor memory, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue, weakness and in some cases, depression and emotional problems. Add to this the statistical research that states only 70% of patients make a full recovery within one year and that only 82% have recovered completely within two years, the fact that whiplash is often dismissed as a trivial condition becomes less acceptable.

The associated symptoms of whiplash can often go unexplained and research has found that between 25 - 50% of sufferers complain of dizziness. While this is not registered by MRI or CAT scans, medical researchers believe that it could be symptomatic of damage to the part of the inner ear that monitors and maintains balance. Memory problems are currently believed to be a result of the pain of the injury itself and it has been found that between 10 - 30% of patients complain of blurred vision.

The main symptoms caused by whiplash are more readily identifiable, but even they can throw up difficulties for medical staff and personal injury specialists. Often the relationship between the symptoms and the specific results are not obvious or even misleading; areas that are said to be painful may not appear to be so, whilst areas that appear strained or inflamed can apparently proffer no pain at all.

The most precise method of determining pain is to use 'facet injections', but these can only identify pain in facet joints and discs. A facet injection is an injection into the facet joints or discs of a long-term steroid and an anaesthetic. They are designed to provide pain relief and to reduce inflammation.

Statistical research, using facet injections, has found that facet joints were the main cause of pain for 23% of patients, discs accounted for the pain in 20% of patients and 41% were found to be suffering as a result of pain in both their discs and their facet joints. However, these figures go no further in explaining the associated disorders caused by whiplash.

It has been suggested that patients can 'fake' symptoms and associated disorders for monetary gain. However, research has been undertaken into this area as well. In 1983 two American doctors, Norris and Watts, reviewed the cases of 61 patients who had been treated for whiplash injuries. 41 of these patients had undertaken personal injury whiplash compensation claims.

Drs Norris and Watts re-evaluated these patients after the compensation claims had been settled and found that their symptoms had not changed. A decade later, the were reviewed again and it was found that only 12% of the original 61 patients had made complete recoveries, whilst 48% carried symptoms that affected their daily lives.

For further information, please visit our website at http://www.1stclaims.co.uk
About the Author
http://www.1stclaims.co.uk is run by a non-practising Personal Injury Solicitor with over 14 years personal injury claims experience. We use this first hand knowledge of the Personal Injury Claim system to hand select the very best personal injury solicitors for you. We deal with a range of personal injury claims, including whiplash claims and compensation. Please visit our website for further information.
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