PTSD linked to muscle degeneration in auto injury patients
Researchers have previously found that many patients with auto injuries experience post-traumatic stress. A new study suggests that this stress may exacerbate the muscle degeneration resulting from the crash.
The researchers examined 44 patients with auto injury pain during the first six months following their injury. Using MRI scans, they tracked muscle degeneration by analyzing the amount of fatty tissues in patients' muscles. An increase in fatty tissue development is a symptom of muscle degeneration.
At the end of six months, many of the patients had recovered, or described pain symptoms that were greatly reduced from their initial levels. These patients also had consistently lower levels of fatty tissues in their muscles, indicating lower levels of muscle degeneration. Meanwhile, those who developed severe, chronic whiplash during the six months had also developed higher levels of fatty tissues in the muscles of their neck. Those patients were more likely to exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress, suggesting a "neuro-pyscho-biological link with poor outcomes" between muscle degeneration and PTSD.
Prolonged stress results in varied biological responses that can negatively impact the muscles. The researchers note that early identification of stress enables patients to use stress-management techniques to prevent further worsening of auto injury symptoms.
Elliott J, Pedler A, Kenardy J, Galloway G, Jull G, Sterling M. 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.
Ogura T, Tashiro M, Masud M, Watanuki S, Shibuya K, Yamaguchi K, Itoh M, Fukuda H, Yanai K. Cerebral Metabolic Changes in Men After Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Neck Pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.