Whiplash Tips and Advice
1. DON'T WORRY. If you've recently been involved in an accident resulting in "whiplash" injuries, all the research suggests that the most likely outcome by far is pain for a few weeks or months followed by a complete recovery. Assume and hope for this.
2. COVER YOURSELF. In the event that you are one of the unlucky few to develop chronic symptoms you need to ensure that you are able to receive the correct medical support. Unfortunately access to this can be controlled by the insurance and legal systems, therefore do not agree any settlement until you and your doctor are convinced you have completely recovered. I would caution you against having any contact with the third party insurance other than through your insurers or lawyer.
3. KEEP A DIARY. Note down all medical appointments, all treatments, all time off work, keep an accurate record of all correspondence relating to your case, jot down all incidents where the accident has had a negative impact on your life. You will be thankful of this memory aid should your case ever become involved in legal wrangling.
4. FIND THE RIGHT DOCTOR. If the pain lasts several months without improving there's a fair chance you will need some medical intervention beyond simple pill-popping for pain relief. Do not assume that just because a person is a doctor they know a lot about whiplash injuries. Ask them about the latest research, and if they look at you blankly, find another doctor, or see 8.
5. TRY TO CONTROL THE PAIN. As opposed to it controlling you. Hard as it may be, try to keep doing what you did before the accident. Activities that cause pain will probably not cause further damage (obviously check with your doctor for certain activities that may worsen your condition). If medication helps you do this, then let it help. Conversely, realise that it may take a while before you can enter any marathons - find your new limitations, try to push them , but not too far.
6. GET A LAWYER. If your case involves a third party and you are hoping for their insurance to foot your bills, you will almost certainly need a lawyer. Insurance companies are pretty reluctant to hand over the cheques, a lawyer will make them more likely to do so. Litigation is not an avenue to untold riches and a life of luxury, but if you're lucky you may get enough to cover your medical bills and loss of earnings.
7. TRY TO UNDERSTAND. It will help if you can discover why you're in pain, this will enable you to help others understand. Tell someone you've broken your neck and you'll get all the sympathy and empathy in the world, tell them you've got "whiplash" and they will hear "whinger", "malingerer", "compensation". Exactly the same problems, but two different descriptions give vastly different reactions. Whiplash is a very misunderstood and misused term, both outside and inside the medical community, the more people who understand it, the better for everyone.
8. HELP YOUR DOCTOR AND LAWYER. If you can, help them to help you. Your doctor may not know the latest whiplash research, take in some of the articles listed on this site and show him/her, similarly your lawyer. Good doctors and lawyers should know when to say "I don't know", and should be amenable to learning. This will help you to feel that you are doing everything to facilitate your recovery.
9. BE POSITIVE. It may get hard, but keep telling yourself that you are going to recover, because you are. It may take time, you may need to try different treatments, but sooner or later either one will work or your body will sort out the problem.
10. TALK ABOUT IT. Explain to people what you're going through. To talk to people who know exactly what you're going through come to WHIPLASH HURTS, a discussion forum dedicated to helping people with whiplash injuries.