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Mindset Affects Whiplash Pain

Researchers found that among 43 collision victims with whiplash, the duration of patients' pain was more dependent on psychological factors than on the severity of the crash. These factors, such as how much attention a person tends to pay to bodily symptoms, were predictive of whether patients had pain that lasted for days or for weeks to months. In other words, the whiplash injury itself may have little to do with who develops chronic pain from the event. Instead, how a person reacts, such as stoping all activities, using a neck brace or relying on "passive" therapies like medication and massage rather than exercise, may be the key factors. It seems that people who believe they will recover quickly may be experiencing a placebo effect, and it is having real effects on recovery.

Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry May 2004;75(5):758-64

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