WhiplashAssessment, Treatment and Recovery
Whiplash is unfortunately a common presentation to the clinic in Bolton, the injury itself is an injury to the neck caused by a sudden movement of the head, such as a accident in the car where there is a rear impact, and the head is violently thrown forwards and backwards, sometimes can only becomes apparent 6-12 hours after the accident.
Common symptoms of whiplash include: Difficulty moving the neck, Headaches, reduced movement, pain in various intensities, stiffness and swelling. Less common symptoms include: Pins and needles on the inner side of your hands, dizziness, tiredness, difficulty swallowing, tinnitus and vertigo Causes of whiplash is most common when you are involved in a vehicle accident other causes include: Contact sport e.g boxing or rugby Falling when the head is jolted back.
Treatment for whiplash:
Firstly if you have lost consciousness, or cannot remember the accident happening, experiencing neurological signs, pins and needles, loss of feeling or inability to use you limbs, go to A&E, if you are not sure or simply feel ‘not right’ visit A&E be safe not sorry, if you are unable to visit the hospital get an emergency appointment with your doctor.
When the symptoms start to ease go and see your physiotherapist or osteopath they will perform an assessment and if necessary refer for X-rays or Mri scans. A treatment program is progressive which may include soft tissue massage and mobilisations to muscles and joints helping mobility, with rehabilitation exercises to do at home to improve overall function. The purpose is to assist movement and function, allowing the body to recover, If there is a suspected serious injury, then treatment it not applied directly and referral may be necessary.
Do I have to see the insurance companies physiotherapist? No, if you are happy with your osteopath/physio then use them. If you want to see a osteopath see one its upto you.
Can you choose your own Osteopath after a Road Traffic Accident? Yes
Will your insurance cover your treatment? This depends on your policy and insurance claim, if you are offered treatment then usually yes, check with you insurance company, often insurance companies have a working relationship with clinics and pay direct to recommended clinic.
When it comes to getting treatment from a road traffic accident if you fulfil the following criteria then you will usually get treatment and car cover etc.
If you were the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that was not your fault, insurance companies will help you get the services you need, independently of your own insurer.
Insurance companies organise all the services you need and the recover the costs directly from the insurer of the at-fault driver of your behalf.
Insurance services normally include..
Complete legal assistance with your accident related issues
Arranging repairs at an approved accident repair centre for your damaged vehicle
Insurance companie usually provide a like for like replacement vehicle for you to use if yours is un-roadworthy or being repaired.
Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) lead to almost half a million cases of whiplash injuryin the UK each year (Association of British Insurers, 2009). Fatalities halved between 1988 and 2008 (ABI) but whiplash claims are increasing, reflecting the more subtle nature of injuries in modern cars. Sometimes people who have an RTA and find no broken bones assume that they have no injury and don’t bother to seek treatment. However, even collisions at 10mph can cause damage to the neck and lower back (Thatcham).
Thatcham estimate that 72% of drivers have poorly adjusted head restraints , contributing to neck trauma and associated problems with headaches, balance and dizziness. Seatbelts, while saving many lives, pin the pelvis to the seat but allow the spine to lift up and then slam back down, straining the muscles, ligaments and joints in the lower back.
Immediately after a RTA, it is important to either go to hospital or see your GP to be checked over. The next few weeks may bring on a variety of symptoms, from neck pain and headache to anxiety, bowel disturbance and a clicky jaw. Keep a symptom diary if you are claiming for treatment or compensation.
Allow yourself to rest and take extra care of yourself, drink plenty of water and perhaps take arnica tablets to help you get over the shock.
As osteopaths we are interested in the mechanics of the body and its capacity to adapt to injury. The effect of whiplash is felt throughout the body structure and depends on your existing health, the speed of impact, direction of impact and the way you were looking, the safety features of your car, whether you were the driver or a front or rear passenger, and how you responded to the trauma. If the accident was a long time ago (years or decades) an osteopath will also be interested in how your body has adapted to cope with the strains. Sometimes we don’t see RTA injuries until they resurface after another trauma that prompts the person to seek help.
We can assess you and find how well your body is healing. Bear in mind that although the accident happened in a moment, it can take quite a long time to resolve the physical and emotional symptoms. Osteopathy works at the pace of the body, and sometimes this may seem slow. However, research shows that trauma heals better slower (Levine).