Post-traumatic stress and whiplash

Auto injuries are a common source of chronic pain, and a new study from leading whiplash researchers finds that the stress you experience after an auto collision may actually increase your risk of developing long-term symptoms.

The study looked at 44 patients who had experienced whiplash injuries within the previous month. The patients were given a physical exam, an MRI to evaluate muscle health, and a test to evaluate post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The researchers found that the patients most likely to develop chronic pain symptoms were those who had both high initial pain levels and signs of PTSD. In fact, patients with PTSD also developed observable changes in their neck muscles. This shows that the injury caused more than just damage to the spine, it also created an unhealthy stress reaction in the patient which might have created pathological changes in the muscles.

Previous research has found that early intervention is very important in preventing chronic whiplash pain. Your chiropractor can help your body's healing process and restore your spine's natural functioning. In addition, chiropractic has also been found to reduce stress levels in patients, which might also help reduce the chance of developing chronic pain.


  1. Elliott, James, and Ashley Pedler, Justin Kenardy,  Graham Galloway, Gwendolen Jull, Michele Sterling. The Temporal Development of Fatty Infiltrates in the Neck Muscles Following Whiplash Injury: An Association with Pain and Posttraumatic Stress. PLoS ONE. 2011; 6 (6): e21194. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021194.
  1. Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral Metabolic Changes in Men After Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.