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.
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.
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Whiplash is a frequent type of injury resulting during an automobile accident. While the majority of whiplash cases and other injuries are described as minor, many individuals don’t recover as quickly from the accident, generally developing chronic whiplash symptoms. But, recent studies show that altered levels of cytokines in the blood, proteins released by the cells from the immune system, can actually determine whether an individual will develop chronic pain symptoms. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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