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Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1500 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 401B
Glendale, CA 91206
Ph: (818) 863-4444

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No Muscle Backlash after Whiplash

Posted on: 10/29/2002
Scientists still haven't unlocked the mystery of the whiplash injury. After being rear-ended, why do some people walk away without any neck pain and soreness, while others suffer months of painful symptoms? Researchers are looking for some answers.

In England, a quarter of a million adults report a whiplash injury every year. This has a huge cost in terms of money, loss of work, and legal fees. There are only a few known factors that help tell who will have problems. These include psychologic factors and ongoing legal battles.

One study in England measured the levels of a muscle enzyme normally present after muscle injury. This is called creatine kinase (CK). CK levels go up after other injuries that have muscle damage. As the CK level rises, muscle soreness occurs. CK levels remain unchanged after whiplash injury. No change occurs within 24 hours, 48 hours, or three months later.

These findings suggest that the painful symptoms from a whiplash injury aren't coming from the muscle. Many of the patients with long-term symptoms are involved in a legal dispute. There is an absence of reported whiplash in countries where insurance and legal aid don't exist.

According to this study, whiplash injury does not appear to be a problem with muscle damage. Additional studies are needed to provide more answers about the causes of pain long after a whiplash injury.

S. Scott, and P. L. Sanderson. Whiplash: A Biochemical Study of Muscle Injury. In European Spine Journal. August 2002. Vol. 11. No. 4. Pp. 389-392.

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