I think one of the more frustrating problems to deal with, both for me and the patient, is a whiplash injury resulting from an auto accident. Usually, the auto accident is not serious, fortunately, nor are the injuries usually serious, but the pain and suffering can persist for quite some time. Witness Beth Heston* whom I saw today in follow-up for the auto accident she sustained 2 months ago.
Ironically, Beth who is a teacher, was hit by one of her students as they were both going to and coming from graduation parties. There was no alcohol involved and all were wearing seat belts. Beth was banged up pretty good but was too tough to go to the emergency room. (Like many persons, when they are in a minor accident they might not be seen by a physician that day, but will come to my office a few days after the accident when they discover how stiff they are). Beth even had a fracture of her sternum ( breast bone) as I discovered when I performed X-rays.
At this point, 2 months from the accident, Beth is recovering from the bumps and bruises and even the fractured sternum feels better, but she still is frustrated by neck pain and stiffness and headaches. I have tried the usual regimens of heat, exercise, medication and physical therapy. They all provide some relief but not complete relief. I express my sympathy for her situation as best as I can, however have also recommended patience, a positive attitude and a realistic outlook because probably the best cure for problem is time in my experience. It is hard to take away the frustration and some of these patients will develop a situational depression as a result. Beth though, is not depressed and I hope that she does not become so.