The whiplash injury refers to the syndrome that causes an abrupt flexo extension of the neck. The typical thing is the car accident where a collision makes us stop abruptly. Our body is fastened by the seat belt and therefore the head is thrown forward causing suffering in the neck when the impulse is slowed.
What are the symptoms of whiplash?
The symptoms are well known because unfortunately this injury is very frequent given the amount of minor traffic accidents that there are. These include:
- Cervical pain with painful contractures in the muscles that stabilize the neck, such as trapezoids.
- Loss of mobility in the neck with stiffness.
- Headache (headaches).
- Dizziness: There are occasional sensations of instability without turning objects.
It is a painful syndrome that is often prolonged over time and contrasts with the lack of lesions in the imaging tests. Sometimes, after weeks of pain, we have an MRI that is usually normal.
As for the evolution of the lesion from the medical point of view you can read the post in which I treat the cervical sprain. I will focus on this post in the debate about these injuries.
This issue is again under discussion as in January of this year in Spain has entered into force a new scale that determines the compensation that occur in traffic accidents. There is much discussion as to the injuries that occur in minor collisions where a pain in the neck is generated. There is such a small amount of collisions between motor vehicles that this issue moves immense amounts of money. There are supporters that these injuries do not exist and that they are the result of the compensations that are perceived by them.
Numerous studies show the influence of economic benefits as a factor of worsening of the clinical situation, that is, those that were pending indemnities had worse evolution in the recovery phase of the accident. In Australia there was a change of legislation a few years ago where the compensation was removed due to minor symptoms after a whiplash. One study evaluated the medical status of patients before and after the change in legislation demonstrating an improvement in patient recovery after withdrawal of compensation.
If we go a little further, there are countries where whiplash does not exist; Not because this injury mechanism does not occur but because it is not contemplated as damages with the right to compensation and because these diagnoses are not performed. Proponents of this vision say that if there is no compensation, they are pains that happen in the silence of their home and that do not last more than a few days or weeks without further problems and are not invalidating enough to transcend in this regard.
What is the reality? I will comment on what is common sense and will add a bit of my experience and opinion. It is known that there is a small percentage of people who take advantage of the law to carry out a fraud. They pretend to suffer a whiplash to receive compensation. There is a specific scale that regulates these processes (to be so frequent) and this makes relatively simple to complete this fraud.
These people really are the smallest percentage (less than 5%) and they are real professionals dedicated to living by deceiving insurance and judges. The remaining 95% are lesions that probably do exist. In my experience the simulators are exceptional, what you see with some frequency are the “exaggerators”. There is no doubt that there are people who succumb to the temptation to prolong the days of retirement or the process of rehabilitation. This is probably why these processes are not seen in countries where there is no compensation.
In summary, injuries exist with greater or lesser intensity and most people overcome them as they can without repairing these issues. There is also a minority that “exaggerates” to monetize a process that happened to them by chance. Only a few use the system to perform fraud simulating injuries that have not occurred.