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Whiplash: Patient Advice

Early Warning Signs of People at Risk of Chronic Pain

  • Belief that you have a serious injury
  • Inability to accept reassurance
  • Avoiding movement due to fear of damage
  • Continuing to rest and avoid normal daily activities
  • Waiting for treatment to help, rather than believing you can help yourself to recover
  • Becoming depressed and anxious regarding the situation

If you are still off work after 3-6 weeks you are at risk of developing a long term problem. There is a 10% risk that you will still be off work in one year's time.

Further Advice

  • Sitting: Choose an ergonomic comfortable chair, get up and stretch regularly.
  • Desk Work: Adjust the height of your chair to suit your desk. Adjust your keyboard and computer screen to comply with ergonomic guidelines. Keep the mouse close to you. Get up and stretch regularly.
  • Driving: Stop regularly for a few minutes' break. Get out of the car to stretch. Make sure your headrest is level with the top of your head, and no more than 2" behind it. Make sure the steering wheel is directly in front of you and that you can hold it comfortably.
  • Shopping: Carry shopping hugged to the body or split the load between more bags. Remember to use a trolley.
  • Daily Activities: Try to avoid repetitive activity and remember to use your arms at or below shoulder level.
  • Sports: Continue with normal sports, as long as it is non-impact. Reduce intensity if necessary. If swimming, try varying the stroke pattern.
  • Sleeping: Find the most comfortable pillow, whether it is an orthopaedic pillow or not. Take painkillers one hour before going to bed.

Don't be an Avoider - be a Coper!
The "Avoider" is frightened by the pain and worries about the progress of the injury. The avoider is afraid that the pain means damage, which it does not. The avoider rests and withdraws from life, waiting for the pain to get better. The "Coper" knows that the pain will get better, does not fear for the future and carries on as normally as possible. The coper deals with pain by being positive, staying active and carrying on with normal life. The Avoiders suffer most, they have pain for longer and have more time off work and they can become disabled. The Copers get better faster, enjoy life more and have less trouble in the long term.  

The Whiplash Book published by TSO (The Stationery Office).