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Posted on 03-24-2015

Repeated Disc Injuries Causes Persistent Inflammation

As a Baltimore Chiropractor that spends much of my time treating patients that suffer from headaches, neck pain, back pain and other whiplash symptoms, I routinely see patients that have been involved in multiple crashes in short periods of time. It is not unusual for a patient to go 10 or more years between crashes and then undergo a series of two or even three crashes over the next several months while under my care.

When these instances occur patients seem to think "Ok, I guess we are starting over" in terms of their therapy in this office. In reality, the case is that we may be starting from less than square one. That is, a subsequent injury to intervertebral discs can cause persistent inflammation over time. There appears to be more than an additive effect of cumulative trauma on intervertebral discs with subsequent injuries.

I remind my patients that Baltimore auto accidents generally happen in an instant, but that healing is a process. Even in the absence of active and passive modalities in my office an injured patient will still be undergoing phases of healing for nearly a year following their dismissal from treatment. If they are subsequently injured during this time period it is not unusual for their injuries to be worse than the original injury. That is, these patients exist in a "pre-weakened" state following treatment and are more susceptible to worse injury following new trauma.

A recent study on rat tail discs (I didn't know there were discs in there, either) found that repetitive stab injuries to the discs during active healing phase caused persistent inflammation and enhanced degeneration. While this was understood to be true up until now I am not sure if it had been found clinically. This supports the idea that a pre-weakened patient that is actively healing and suffers a new injury can cause much worse pathological disc injury than had the disc never been injured in the first place. You can check out the abstract of the article here.

If you, or someone you know, has suffered from disc injuries related to a Baltimore auto accident, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be happy to help!

Dr. Gulitz

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