If you suspect you may have whiplash after being involved in a road traffic accident, seek medical attention, as it can be more than just a pain in the neck.
So you’re a pretty rough-and-tumble person; you’ve been in plenty of scrapes with nary a tear or a disparaging word, and you’ve just ‘toughed it out’ and let yourself heal while going about your business. Well, that may be fine for some injuries, but if you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident that’s left you with what you think could be whiplash, you’d better swallow your pride and get yourself to your GP as quickly as possible, because whiplash that goes untreated is going to lead to more than just a stiff neck and shoulders.
It’s not all in your head
Many people take a dim view of those proclaiming to suffer from whiplash injury, especially when it comes to individuals that make personal injury claims for thousands of pounds. It’s only natural to be a little derisive, especially if you think these claims are spurious, but the truth is that whiplash can be a very serious injury that could lead to complications involving not just your neck and shoulders, but could lead to debilitating headaches, nausea, loss of balance, and even numbness or tingling up and down your arms.
The symptoms of some whiplash sufferers are so severe that they indeed cannot do much of anything, including work, while they recover, and it is for this reason that accident claims are made against insurers when someone suffers from a whiplash injury. It’s not out of any desire to make a few quick quid off the system but instead for legitimate and debilitating pain and suffering that can last years for chronic whiplash – and with the number of effective treatments options for whiplash injury being between few and none, only time will tell if a whiplash sufferer will ever recover completely.
immobilise your neck and extend your recovery time
It used to be that the best practice for treating whiplash was to immobilise a patient’s neck in order to minimise the possibility of further soft tissue damage, but this has fallen out of favour, thanks to modern medical research. In fact, keeping your neck in an immobiliser could actually make things worse, leading to a longer recovery time and more pain overall.
Instead, neck injury specialists say that you can bin the neck immobiliser and instead engage in gentle physiotherapy to ensure range of movement is restored. This can sometimes be painful for a whiplash sufferer, as the soft tissues injured in a whiplash-related accident become inflamed and extremely sensitive, but research has shown that engaging in painful physiotherapy early on in the course of recovery from whiplash can lead to shortened recovery times overall, and better all-around health once the injury has finally faded.
Whatever you do, make sure that you seek medical attention immediately if you do suspect you’ve suffered whiplash or any other form of neck injury. Even if it turns out you’re fine, a little bit of preventative medicine is worth its weight in gold in the event of a more serious issue – and catching it early, along with the proper treatment, can make a world of difference.
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Image: Hot Under the Collar by Neil Moralee