We have previously discussed on this blog the difficulties in differentiating shoulder injuries to injured workers, noting that according to medical literature, several conditions can account for similar symptoms in a similar area. Some recent articles have now shed light on some difficulties in diagnosing a concussion versus a whiplash injury, given the similar presentation between the two conditions.
According to an article in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, since the presenting symptoms of concussion and whiplash can be similar (neck pain, headache, dizziness, and concentration deficits), and the causes of both conditions (biomechanically) is similar, there is a very real risk of misdiagnosis. This is seems especially prevalent in the workers’ compensation system where panel physicians hesitate to refer injured workers to specialists, or for diagnostic testing, to avoid angering either the employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The very nature of the panel physician/employer relationship unfortunately creates an incentive for the panel physician to undertreat the injured worker and return him or her to full duty before the injured worker is ready to do so.
While many times either a concussion or whiplash will resolve within a three month period, in those cases where it does not, misdiagnosis can be very dangerous. Paul Lagerman (“a Physiotherapist with 20 years of experience in pain management, musculoskeletal injury and rehabilitation”), posted a deep analysis of this problem, along with the dangers and effects of not understanding what condition is actually in need of medical treatment. This can cause the problem to linger far longer than necessary.