Whiplash Shows Similarities to Tendonosis

Male Driver Suffering Whiplash Injury
Whiplash is often caused by violent movement of the neck and spine and can sometimes take a day or longer to recognize.

Whiplash is one of the most common personal injuries, typically sustained in car accidents. While most instances heal with prompt chiropractic treatment, some cases can become chronic, greatly impacting the daily life of those afflicted.

Researchers have found that whiplash injuries appear to share some characteristics with Achilles tendonosis. The discovery could help develop potential new treatments for chronic whiplash pain.

Tendonosis should not be confused with tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendon. In contrast, Achilles tendonosis is not characterized by inflammation; instead, the tendon thickens, which damages the tendon by creating microscopic tears, causing tenderness and pain. It is a chronic condition that gets worse over time.

Researchers studying the tendons of patients with whiplash found the development of blood vessels in abnormal tissues, similar to what has been found in those suffering from Achilles tendonosis. The hope is that treatments similar to those that have proven successful with Achilles tendonosis may also be equally effective for whiplash.

Whiplash injuries happen when the head violently snaps backwards and then forward, such as during a car collision. Such movement can stretch, strain, and even tear the ligaments, tendons, and structures of the neck, also known as the cervical spine. In turn, whiplash may also cause micro-tears in the neck tendons.

A majority of whiplash patients recover within weeks but a significant number end up suffering chronic symptoms, which led researchers to see whether studies of Achilles tendonosis could provide answers as to why.

Using imaging technology, studies have shown that chronic pain in the Achilles and patellar (knee) tendons is characterized by the presence of high blood flow in the painful regions of the tendons, but not to areas without pain. Further tests showed the painful tendons revealed signs of blood vessel growth in abnormal tissues. Local anesthetics injected in these areas provided temporary pain relief.

By using the same imaging techniques used in the Achilles tendonosis studies, researchers at Umeå University found that whiplash patients had more areas with high blood flow, particularly where the tendons entered the bone.

While it may be a while before these experiments yield new treatment methods, for the present early treatment is the best way to prevent whiplash from becoming a chronic condition. Chiropractic adjustments, soft tissue massage therapies, and an exercise program designed by your practitioner will help repair neck tendons and ligaments damaged by whiplash, while advancing your overall wellness.

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