Whiplash symptoms can last for years after a car accident. The ongoing pain that stems from a person’s neck jerking forward and backward in a car accident frustrates patients who endure multiple tests but cannot find conclusive causes of their pain. A recent study suggests the pain may be caused by changes in the brain as a result of the whiplash.

It’s estimated that three in 1,000 people suffer from whiplash and one in four of them has chronic symptoms. Sometimes people don’t see a doctor because they don’t experience symptoms immediately after the accident and don’t feel any pain. Afterward, however, they may notice pain in their head, neck and jaw. This delayed family of symptoms is known as whiplash-associated disorder.

A recent study suggests that the symptoms could be the result of previously unseen changes in areas of the brain connected to pain processing. Researchers scanned the brains of 20 women – eight of them were healthy and pain-free, while 12 of them had been diagnosed with chronic whiplash associated disorder. They exposed the group to four different levels of non-painful electrical neck stimulation. The results showed changes in blood flow in areas of the brain involved in pain perception and processing sensory. In other words, something happens to the brain when whiplash occurs, explaining the delayed onset of injuries, chronic pain, and inability to diagnose with regular medical testing.

It’s hoped that the study’s findings will shed light on chronic-whiplash associated disorder, allowing patients to get the help they need.

Physicians at Piedmont Interventional Pain offer different treatment options for whiplash sufferers. If you have experienced neck and back pain resulting from a car accident, contact our office for a consultation appointment.