Studies looking at whiplash injuries consistently identify the facet joints, or the joints in the back of your neck, as the primary source of whiplash injury pain. The second most common tissue source is the intervertebral disc. Injury to the facet joints and the intervertebral disc produce a chemical inflammation which causes nerve endings to be excited in the local area where the injury has occurred. This causes your brain to sense more pain.
When looking at car accidents and the lower back, studies indicate that the main source of pain is the intervertebral disc. After having had a traumatic injury, the intervertebral disc will degenerate or wear out quicker and we also produce more pain sensing nerve fibers which turns the intervertebral disc itself into a tissue source of pain.
The third and final tissue which produces pain after a whiplash injury or car accident are the muscles. The muscles undergo tremendous stress in a car accident producing many micro-tears within each muscle. Each of these tears will necessitate scar tissue formation and if the muscle does not heal properly may produce chronic pain.
Any direct injury to a muscle can cause inflammation and therefore pain. Any long-term or short-term acute musculoskeletal pain often has a significant muscle contribution. Often this is referred to as myofascial pain syndrome. A simple explanation of this syndrome involves these steps:
The origin of all pain is inflammation and the inflammatory response. This has never been more true than in people who have had car accidents. When your body tissues have been damaged, chemicals are released which cause a complex cascade of chemical reactions which result in pain. These same chemicals which are causing pain also stimulate the process of recovery and healing.
To do so, the body starts to develop scar tissue or fibrosis. A day or two after injury and acute inflammation, the connective tissue (ligaments, muscles, tendons, fascia, etc) begins to react by producing new cells, capillaries to carry blood, and scar tissue.
The Department of Bioengineering and the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania produced a recent study which was published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering in 2011. This was a landmark study and helps to provide us with great information about how to help you get better after an accident. We learn the following details:
The following treatment methods must be employed to reach maximum recovery:
* Effective inflammatory control
* Early and aggressive movement of the joints so that the ligaments heal properly. (Chiropractic adjustments)
* Controlled therapeutic exercise to aid in normal scar tissue formation
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