Dr. Kevin J. Yates

Car crashes impact nervous system

As we saw in the video of the previous email there are multiple points of injury as a result of stretching supportive soft tissue beyond their normal limits and in a rapid fashion, compression of neurological tissue and nerves and compression of other joints. 

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 supporting tissues of the spine can be stretched or torn. The injured area becomes swollen and inflamed and sends pain signals through the nerves to the 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 the negative cycle becomes more difficult to treat. The injured area keeps sending pain signals and each time, your central nervous system reacts. This can be a vicious cycle.

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 the 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.

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. 

Stone AM, Vicenzino B, Lim EC, Sterling M. Measures of central hyperexcitability in chronic whiplash-associated disorder - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Manual Therapy 2012; Sep 1.


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