Therapy Improves Disability and PTSD Symptoms in Auto Injury Patients
Neck pain is generally caused by a traumatic event, such as a motor vehicle collision. This trauma may also result in persistent posttraumatic stress symptoms or PTSD. Research has shown posttraumatic stress symptoms to be associated with poorer recovery following auto injuries. Theoretical models have suggested that heightened anxiety associated with PTSD may exacerbate injury symptoms. It is thought that cognitive-behavioral therapy could be effective at reducing these posttraumatic symptoms, though little research has been done to prove its effectiveness.
A new study examined the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral treatments for PTSD following a car crash. Twenty six auto injury patients were involved in the study and half received cognitive-behavioral therapy. The effects were evaluated immediately following treatment and six months later using clinical interviews, questionnaires, and measurement of sensory pain thresholds. Treatment consisted of ten weekly one-hour sessions of individual cognitive-behavioral therapy, which included psychoeducation, anxiety management, cognitive restructuring, imaginal exposure, and relapse prevention.
Clinically significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were found in the patients who underwent therapy. This treatment was also associated with clinically significant improvements in neck disability and physical and emotional functioning. This research provides support for the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy to target PTSD symptoms following car accidents.
Louise R, Kenardy J, et al. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Cognitive-behavioral Therapy for the Treatment of PTSD in the Context of Chronic Whiplash. Clinical Journal of Pain 2012; 28 (9): 755-65. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318243e16b.