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Chronic Whiplash Determined by Blood Samples

Chronic Whiplash Determined by Blood Samples - El Paso Chiropractor
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Up to 50% of individuals who’ve experienced a whiplash, a neck injury most commonly caused during an automobile accident, often develop chronic symptoms. Medical diagnosis demonstrate certain people can have a higher chance to develop chronic whiplash symptoms from others. A recent study shows a possible explanation suggesting the reason for this percentage of chronic pain in a particular percent of individuals: cytokines.

Cytokines are proteins released by the cells found within the immune system which help with cell communication. Soon after experiencing an injury, the immune system generates what is known as pro-inflammatory cytokines, or cytokines responsible for fighting off infection. Although whiplash is an injury resulting from physical trauma, inflammatory chemicals secreted from the cells in the body actually serve an important function during whiplash type injuries.

Whiplash-researcher Michele Sterling of the University of Queensland in Australia and her colleagues conducted a study to show how cytokine levels change in individuals who’ve sustained a whiplash injury. The study showed that individuals who recovered more quickly from this type of condition generally demonstrated particular changes in the cytokine levels within their body as compared to individuals experiencing symptoms of chronic whiplash. Michele Sterling and her colleagues studied 40 individuals within 2 to 3 weeks after sustaining a whiplash injury. Initially, the individuals who suffered from whiplash presented higher levels of a pro-inflammatory cytokine called C-reactive protein or CRP. The elevated levels of this cytokine usually indicate overall inflammation in the body. But, three months after the injury, several individuals showed decreased levels of CRP. These individuals could potentially rehabilitate without developing chronic whiplash, according to the research.

Individuals who displayed higher recovery rates also demonstrated elevated levels of a cytokine called TNF-α. This was a surprising finding since the presence of pro-inflammatory cytokines typically signals increased inflammation within the body. The researchers speculated that an initial increase in TNF-α levels may have actually improved the chances of muscle recovery.

If this research is confirmed in future studies, tracking changes in inflammatory biomarkers using serum blood tests may offer insight into determining an individual’s risk of developing chronic symptoms after suffering from an automobile injury, such as whiplash.

By Dr. Alex Jimenez

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