Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

I can't believe how many employees I've lost over the last year due to whiplash injuries from nonwork-related car accidents. Just looking at how many are now receiving disability pensions, I'd say it's a lot cheaper to take time off from work up front and get help before this becomes a serious problem. Am I right? Or maybe it doesn't matter -- if it's gonna happen, there's nothing stopping it. What do you think?

Answer:

Researchers say the cost of whiplash injuries is far more than ever imagined. Just as you suspected, it turns out that long-term sick leave and disability pensions for chronic pain from whiplash associated disorder (WAD) cost much more than acute medical care. This could mean that routine medical care right after a rear-end collision could save a lot of money in medical costs later. Studies show that as many as four out of every 10 people (40 per cent) develop chronic neck pain after a car accident. This is true whether the person is a blue-collar or white-collar worker. Work disability after whiplash is a fairly new area of study as it relates to neck pain after motor vehicle accidents (MVA). It may be possible to predict who is most likely to be affected and get them some help early on. In a recent study from Finland, older age was a predictor of work disability in a large group of post-whiplash workers. Cognitive impairment was a second preditive factor of long-term work disability. These findings suggest that physical treatment may not be as important after whiplash injury as interventions for mental functioning. Age is not a modifiable risk factor, but it is a tip off to watch out for problems. Older adults should be screened carefully after motor vehicle accidents to help identify problems and prevent an acute injury from becoming a chronic and costly one. J. Buitenhuis, MD, et al. Work Disability After Whiplash. In Spine. February 1, 2009. Vol. 34. No. 3. Pp. 262-267.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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