Before considering whiplash claims it is important to know what Whiplash is before taking a case.
Neck or back whiplash is the term often given to an acceleration or even deceleration injury of the neck or back. This may cause damage to numerous structures and muscles within the neck and back.
The spine is composed of many bones known as vertebrae. Each vertebra connects with the vertebra above and below via two types of joints. The facet joints are on either side of the spine and the disc centrally placed. In addition, the vertebrae have muscles situated at the front, back and sides of the neck and back supporting these joints.
A thorough examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose neck or back whiplash. Investigations such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan are usually required to rule out even more serious injury. These scans are critical evidence in whiplash claims.
During acceleration or deceleration injury of the neck or back, stretching and compressive forces are placed on the joints, muscles, ligaments and nerves primarily at the front and back of the neck and back. This may cause widespread damage to these structures if the forces are beyond what the tissues can withstand. When this occurs the condition is known as neck or back whiplash.
Whiplash injuries most commonly occur in road traffic accidents whereby the neck and back is thrown forcefully forwards (held by the seat belt) and then forced immediately backwards. This condition is also often frequently seen in contact sports such as rugby, whereby the usual mechanism of injury is a forceful collision with another player resulting in a jolting force to the back, head and neck.
The pain associated with neck or back whiplash can be sharp or dull and may increase with movement or sustained postures. Pain is usually felt in the neck and back. It occasionally can be found in the shoulders, arms or head. It is not unusual to take a week or more before manifesting itself.
Most sufferers with mild to moderate cases of neck and back whiplash heal quickly and have a full recovery with appropriate physiotherapy treatment. In other instances, their recovery may take them weeks to months. In very severe cases of whiplash, recovery times may be significantly longer. Sufferers with severe neck whiplash may also have an increased likelihood of developing degenerative changes to their joints resulting in long term problems with restricted movement and pain.
Sufferers with neck and back whiplash injuries should at all costs avoid maintaining poor posture in any position, as this places considerable stress on the neck and back.