Diagnosing whiplash injuries


Despite the fact that 12,000 motorists claim to suffer a whiplash injury each day, one doctor says a firm diagnosis is yet to be discovered.

In a BBC Radio 4 interview, Stuart Matthews who is a consultant trauma surgeon at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford recently shared his views on the topic.

Whiplash Claims"Whiplash is a wide variety of symptoms but I don't think the medical profession actually knows what it is. There is no diagnostic test for it," he told the presenter, adding: "We mainly have to rely on what the patients tell us."

Although in Dr Matthews' view there might not be a firm diagnostic label, whiplash is considered to be a genuine injury which is widely acknowledged and known to cause headaches, stiffness in the neck and the back of the head. The injury is most commonly associated with car crashes but a strained neck and spine can be the result of a range of physical activities.

"Thankfully in many cases the symptoms of whiplash begin to fade after a few days and can pass completely after a week or two. However we do see more severe cases where an individual begins to experience severe pains in the back of the head as well as pins and needles in the shoulders and arms," said Susan Vanden, partner at law firm Simpson Millar.

"For some people even a few days off work has financial implications and they could be entitled to compensation. Keeping a written record of what happened and seeking medical attention at the first sign of pain will significantly help the process of securing appropriate financial compensation."

Anyone who has been in an accident and think they might have whiplash should contact their GP or, in more severe cases, visit the nearest A&E department.

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