According to researchers, whiplash can cause poorer quality of life five years after the injury occurs, with neck pain being the most common complaint. However, there are several other conditions that can be brought about by whiplash injuries, and these comorbid conditions can also result in a poorer quality of life long after the initial injuries.
If you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of a negligent driver, it's important for you to understand the various symptoms to watch for. It's also important for you to seek compensation for your injuries, especially if the comorbid symptoms do develop and impact your ability to remain gainfully employed. Here are a few conditions that can be caused by whiplash and how to make sure your medical documentation will help you in your insurance claim or lawsuit.
The damage done to the craniocervical junction and cervical spine can cause other conditions to develop at some point in the future.
- Craniocervical Syndrome. Damage to the nerves and ligaments in the neck can cause this syndrome. Symptoms include migraines, tinnitus, blurred vision, reduced cognitive skills, dizziness, numbness, tingling, and loss of large motor skills.
- Chiari Malformation. The force of impact that causes whiplash can also cause a dura leak, which, in turn, can cause acquired Chiari malformation. In this condition, the cerebellar tonsils descend into the spinal cord opening and may put pressure on the brain stem. Symptoms include many of the same symptoms as craniocervical syndrome. If pressure is placed on the brain stem, symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, inability to regulate body temperature, and gastrointestinal, respiratory, and heart problems.
- Syringomyelia. Damage to the cervical spine can cause cysts in the spinal cord. If these cysts fill with cerebrospinal fluid, it is called syringomyelia. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and weakness in the extremities, shoulders, and back; difficulty walking; inability to sense temperature changes; and urinary and incontinence problems.
- Somatic Syndromes. Research shows that whiplash patients report an increased level of somatic symptoms. It's believed that the stress is your system's response to the pain of whiplash and results in heightened pain and sensitization, which can affect the nervous system and cause symptoms such as heart palpitations, gastrointestinal problems, inability to sleep, and shortness of breath.
- PTSD. Whiplash sufferers can develop post-traumatic stress syndrome and attachment insecurity due to the pain and resulting multi-systemic problems caused by whiplash. This can cause them to avoid being in vehicles and heightened emotions regarding the accident and their injuries.
Since many of these conditions result in similar symptoms, it's important to have a thorough medical evaluation. Start asking for copies of all medical records and documentation and keep them in a binder. This will help when it comes time to present your case.
Since there's a chance that your whiplash injury could result in long-term problems, it's important to include long-term medical care in your insurance claim or your personal injury lawsuit. Medical expenses and loss of income will be added up at the time the claim or case is filed, but your case may receive more compensation due to long-lasting conditions caused by the accident.
To determine this, the insurance claims adjustor or judge will determine a multiplier based on the severity of your current comorbid conditions and the chances that comorbid conditions may develop in the future, depending on the results of your medical evaluation. This multiplier can be 1.5, 2, 5, or 10 times (or any other number deemed appropriate) the amount of your current medical costs and loss of income. Speak with your personal injury lawyer for more information about compensation for long-lasting medical costs and loss of income.