Whiplash Pain May Lead to Fibromyalgia
Did you know that someone experiencing a whiplash injury is more likely to end up with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia?
Whiplash leads to Fibromyalgia. I knew there had to be a connection!
When my children were young, I would take them to the skating rink each weekend. I decided I wanted to try to skate backwards, which was a big mistake! My Legs went up, I fell back, and my neck was jerked backwards. I never completely recovered and have pain in my neck to this day, along with the overall body pain of Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia has been shown to be 13 times more frequent following a neck injury, such as whiplash, as compared to other parts of the body.***
The Central Nervous System Overreacts
What happens during whiplash? Whiplash locks the head and neck in a forward position, resetting the body’s trauma response. The central nervous system may continue to react on a daily basis, overreacting to the pain, as if it is threatened. The trauma also affects the cervical spine, creating ongoing stress on the body. The person may develop Fibromyalgia.
Central Sensitization Theory
Many researchers of Fibromyalgia pain seem to agree with the “Central Sensitization Theory”, which has two main characteristics. Both involve a heightened sensitivity to pain, and the sensation of touch. Victims have a lower pain tolerance, as their brains have an increased sensitivity to pain signals.
In 2005, Samuel McLean and colleagues from the University of Michigan Medical Center established the criteria to assign Fibromyalgia to whiplash trauma. They stated:
“To summarize, there are abundant data suggesting that it is biologically plausible that physical trauma, acting as a stressor, could lead to the development of chronic widespread pain, as well as a number of other somatic symptoms.”
What to do?
Have you visited a Chiropractor? When you get a chiropractic manipulation, you are restoring the nervous system connection between your spine and the rest of your body. Many Chiropractors also assist their patients with a detoxification program.
If you go for massage, it is best to avoid the deep tissue massage. I learned this the hard way…I actually paid someone to inflict this pain on me! I did not realize how painful it could be! Deep tissue massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles and the massage therapist uses deeper pressure. For someone with Fibromyalgia, it can be an extremely painful experience.
The goal of a massage is to gain function of the muscles and to help the muscles become more pliable and able to relax, which deep tissue massage will not help. I go to a school of massage, it gives the students clinical hours while offering me an affordable rate. You can opt for just the neck and shoulder massage or the overall body massage.
In my weekly chair Yoga sessions, we also incorporate several exercises suited for the neck, which I can practice at home.
No Time For Regrets!
Have you experienced an injury to your neck before you developed Fibromyalgia?
Sometimes, I do look back and wish I could relive the moment when I chose to attempt skating backwards. Sure, I wish it wouldn’t have happened. But, I was led on a different path and continue to learn to care for myself, and have met many new friends along the way. No regrets! No time for regrets!
***Buskila D, Neumann L, Vaisberg G, et al. Increased rates of fibromyalgia following cervical spine injury. A controlled study of 161 cases of traumatic injury. Arthritis Rheum 1997;40:446-452. Pubmed Abstract