Fear of movement can worsen car accident pain
Imagine what happens when you injure your neck. Your muscles contract, there's a burst of pain, and a soreness that makes you want to avoid moving your neck too much or turning too far. You may worry about re-injuring yourself or you may think, "I could do more harm than good by moving my neck." Unfortunately, this fear of movement often makes matters worse, especially for people with neck pain from a car accident.
A new study examined the effects of fear of movement on neck disability and range of motion in 98 patients with whiplash. While the patients' injuries ranged in severity, all the patients had whiplash for under a month and all were injured in an auto collision. Researchers measured patients' levels of fear using two different scales. They also examined neck range of motion and degree of neck disability. Patients were evaluated after one, three, and six months post-injury.
Often, patients who more afraid to move their neck had more severe neck disability and reduced range of motion. Increased fear also prolonged the symptoms of whiplash. In contrast, patients with reduced fear were more likely recover within 6 months.
Feeling more comfortable with moving an injured body part does more than just decrease anxiety. It also ensures that tissues don't become more tense, restricted or damaged. Chiropractors can help you learn to move your injured neck safely to avoid re-injury.Chiropratic works by restoring the natural movement of the ligaments and joints in your neck to allow your body heal more efficiently.
Pedler A, Sterling M. Assessing Fear-Avoidance Beliefs in Patients With Whiplash-associated Disorders: A comparison of 2 measures. Clinical Journal of Pain 27.6 (2011): 502-7.