Fibromyalgia often results when people suffer a whiplash injury during a motor vehicle accident. While this diagnosis is controversial, according to a new study the method of diagnosing fibromyalgia after whiplash may be skewed and the fibromyalgia can likely be reversed.1
This study examined 326 patients with three months of persistent pain following a whiplash injury. Fibromyalgia is typically diagnosed when widespread pain is persistent for three months and there is tenderness in 11 of 18 specific locations. Ten of these locations are located in the neck and shoulder girdle. In the patient with whiplash injury, most of the tender points tend to be in this area, leading some to believe that the fibromyalgia diagnosis is more related to localized injury in the neck and shoulder region, rather than a widespread condition.
The whiplash patients in this study almost always had a greater proportion of neck/shoulder tender points to distal tender points. When this study compared whiplash injury patients to other non-whiplash fibromyalgia patients seeking treatment, they found that the whiplash patients had the same amount of neck and shoulder girdle tender points but less distal tender points. As these patients completed a three-week treatment program, 63% saw the fibromyalgia diagnosis disappear, as their condition no longer met the diagnosing criteria. In summary, the diagnosis of fibromyalgia following whiplash is controversial because of the location of the tender points, indicating a localized injury rather than widespread condition, and the disappearance of some of these tender points after treatment, ruling out the fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Treatment for fibromyalgia related to whiplash injury
Seeing that most tender points following whiplash tend to be located in the neck and shoulder girdle indicate cervical instability caused from the trauma of the whiplash. The most effective treatment for cervical instability, or any joint instability, is Prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is an injection technique that stimulates a mild inflammation in the injured area. This inflammation mimics the body’s natural healing process, so it can be said that Prolotherapy stimulates healing. Therefore any fibromyalgia resulting from whiplash has a high chance of being cured with Prolotherapy. While the diagnosis may be controversial, the pain is real and patients suffering from symptoms of whiplash injury are looking for a cure. Prolotherapy could be the cure for many of these patients.
1. Robinson JP, Theodore BR, Wilson HD, Waldo PG, Turk DC. Determination of fibromyalgia syndrome following whiplash injuries: methodologic issues. Pain. 2011 June; 152(6): 1311–1316.