Whiplash is difficult to live with at the best of times, and is responsible for a huge range of symptoms. The physical, emotional and mental difficulties involved in living with whiplash give it a disproportionate impact on your life, as the symptoms compound each other’s effects and decrease your quality of life.

This is how whiplash affects other conditions.

Arthritis

In the case that someone has arthritis before suffering from whiplash, it is likely that the pain, suffering and restriction of movement experienced as a result of the whiplash will be greatly exacerbated.

If your symptoms get worse after suffering whiplash, it could be the case that you already had arthritis, and that whiplash exacerbated the condition and prevented an early diagnosis and treatment. In this way, whiplash can cause a lot of problems to people with arthritis who are not yet aware of their condition.

Due to the many different types of arthritis, different sufferers may experience different symptoms.

Someone with ankylosing spondylitis may find that they experience increased pain due to whiplash in the short term. By contrast, someone with rheumatoid arthritis might suffer a greater amount of pain during a flare-up, with a concomitant loss of quality of life, while someone with osteoarthritis might find that whiplash decreases their ability to manage their condition, causing long-term irreversible damage.

If you have ankylosing spondylitis, you might find that you are unable to exercise effectively after receiving a whiplash injury. This could decrease your ability to maintain your condition. In addition, if you have osteoarthritis you may find that being unable to exercise after a whiplash injury causes you to gain weight, again worsening your condition.

Arthritis or arthritic symptoms can in some cases occur after suffering whiplash. Whiplash may exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis, or vice-versa. This could have an impact on the amount of damages you are eligible for. If you see a doctor soon after your accident, you may be able to minimise the impact on your existing condition.

Mental Health

Many mental health issues will be made worse by whiplash. Chronic whiplash is associated with anxiety and depression, meaning that if you already had these conditions before your accident, they could be made worse. Anxiety and depression associated with whiplash may complicate the treatment of other mental illnesses, as well.

Even if you have short-term whiplash, depressive symptoms may appear.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as ME) is not necessarily a mental illness in the sense that the term is usually used. It may be helpful to think of it as a mental illness with additional negative physical symptoms or a physical illness with additional negative mental symptoms. Leaving aside complex questions of classifications CFS may make a full recovery from whiplash harder, and will certainly make symptoms of anxiety and depression more difficult to deal with in the case of long-term ME.

It is unclear whether it is whiplash or involvement in the traffic accidents themselves that causes mental health problems, but according to the literature 60.1% of people with whiplash will develop symptoms of depression at some point.

Multiple Sclerosis

Legally, it is very unlikely that you will be able to successfully argue that whiplash directly caused MS. However, if you already have MS it is very possible that whiplash will exacerbate or worsen the symptoms.

Multiple Sclerosis developing has been tentatively tied to stress and trauma, and whiplash is a stressful thing to live with.

Multiple Sclerosis is associated closely with depression, and as such could make your mental health much more vulnerable while you deal with your whiplash injury.

Fifty percent of people with Multiple Sclerosis will deal with depression at some point, so it’s worthwhile to be informed and stay aware of the symptoms, especially if you are also suffering from another condition.

Multiple Sclerosis differs between people and over time within the same person. This can make it really difficult to know what are symptoms of the disease, what are normal symptoms of other illnesses such as infections, and where the lines cross. Whiplash would certainly be such an illness, so if you find yourself in an accident and suffer from Multiple Sclerosis it could be worth getting yourself checked out for whiplash even if you feel sure that your symptoms are caused by MS.

Physical Ability

If you have difficulties getting around already, whiplash might affect your quality of life much more severely than it would affect someone with fewer difficulties. The additional pain and limitation to your neck’s range of movement could mean the difference between successfully completing your daily routines and finding them difficult or impossible.

Naturally, this will add to the possibility of developing depression or anxiety problems, in addition to the loss of quality of life.

Whiplash Exacerbation

The exacerbation of existing conditions by whiplash is a problem that is known and recognised by courts.

If you take someone to court for causing a whiplash injury, and they find that the whiplash injury has exacerbated or accelerated the symptoms of a pre-existing medical condition, you may find that you are eligible for damages in the region of £3500 – £7000. It may also be more likely that you meet criteria for increased vulnerability in the affected area of your neck if you had previous symptoms affecting the area.