Post-traumatic stress linked to muscle degeneration in auto injury patients
Scientists have previously observed the presence of post-traumatic stress in patients who have been in a car crash. But a new study suggests that post-traumatic stress may actually worsen muscle degeneration associated with these types of injuries.1
In the study, researchers tracked muscle degeneration in 44 patients with neck pain in the first six months post-injury. Using MRI scans, they analyzed the amount of fatty tissues developing in patients' muscles. Increased fatty tissues is a sign of muscle degeneration.
After six months, a number of patients had recovered or else had greatly reduced auto injury symptoms. Those patients were also the ones who had lower levels of fatty tissues all along. On the other hand, patients who had developed severe, chronic pain after six months also had developed more fatty tissues in their neck muscles. Those patients were also more likely to exhibit PTSD symptoms and have poor functional recovery. The strong association of PTSD with increased fatty tissues suggests that there is a "neuro-pyscho-biological link with poor outcomes" between PTSD and muscle degeneration.
Prolonged stress produces a number of biological responses and can negatively impact the muscle system. Researchers noted that the early identification and management of stress may prevent the physical symptoms of whiplash from worsening later on.
- 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.
- 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.