Why do you have widespread pain after an auto injury?
Some patients develop chronic, widespread pain after an auto injury. Decades ago, people with these symptoms were thought to be exaggerating or faking their injuries. But now we know that there are actual changes that occur in the brain and nervous system that are at the root of some chronic pain.
During a crash, the tissues of your spine can be stretched or torn. The injured area becomes swollen and inflamed and sends pain signals to the spine and brain. Pain tells the nervous system that something is wrong, which tells the muscles in the area to contract to protect the area from further injury. If the injury isn't treated right away, a negative cycle develops. The injured area keeps sending pain signals and each time, your central nervous system reacts. Studies show that the pain centers of your brain begin to become over-stimulated or sensitized to pain stimuli, making your body over-sensitive to pain in general.
Medical research shows that auto injury patients demonstrate objective evidence of this. When auto injury patients with chronic pain are examined, scientists find that they are more susceptible to pain in their hands and feet -- far from the source of the original injury.
Other research has found actual changes in brain function of chronic pain patients with PET scans. Once the nervous system is on red alert, it can take time to reverse the negative cycle and get your nervous system back to its normal state.
If you've developed chronic pain from a car crash, we might be able to help. Research shows that chiropractic is effective at reducing pain from auto injuries and shows that chiropractic actually has positive effects on the pain centers of the brain. Your chiropractor can pinpoint the root cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan to help you reclaim your health.
Stone AM, Vicenzino B, Lim EC, and Sterling M. Measures of central hyperexcitability in chronic whiplash associated disorder - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Manual Therapy 2012; [Epub ahead of print on September 1].