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When Acute Sensitivity To The Cold Predicts Prolonged Whiplash Injury Recovery.

Cartoon of man holding his neck in pain
14th May 2014

Despite recent changes to compensation for whiplash.

In many instances, some types of whiplash symptoms are not so easily recognisable and may only appear days, weeks or even months afterwards.

Previous surveys have found, that contrary to much media reporting over escalating claims, still 40 per cent of all victims of whiplash never come forward to claim compensation. Incredibly, between 20 to 25 per cent of those involved in a vehicle collision experience moderately high levels of pain and disability for up to three years following the initial impact.

Two Poor Recovery Symptoms

However, two factors can emerge, and may also be used to predict risk of poor recovery from whiplash injury - increased sensitivity to cold, which clinicians have found challenging to indentify in a medical environment, and post-traumatic stress reaction.

In the latter, an Impact of Events Scale (IES) can be more effectively applied. It has been estimated that as many as 1 in 3 of whiplash victims are thought to be suffering PTSD up to one month after a car accident and a score of 26 or more on the IES can positively indicate an ongoing post-traumatic stress reaction, which may still not be not resolved six weeks after the collision.

Other whiplash predictors

Other predictors of a problematic or prolonged recovery appear to be the presence of neuropathic pain (damage to nerves of the peripheral nervous system) and disability levels. The symptoms of a yet undiagnosed whiplash injury can often include unexplained weight loss, fever, dizziness, chronic fatigue.

Evidence of a spinal cord compression can also be revealed by a severe weakness involving hand wasting,  and disturbance in posture and walking.

It has been found that up to 1 in 5 who experience short -term discomfort and stress as a result of neck pain will go on experiencing debilitating symptoms of a longer term chronic whiplash condition. As a result, around three quarters of whiplash victims can take a year to regain their normal health and may not fully recover for a period of two years.