Content not quantity is a better measure of muscle degeneration in whiplash

James M. Elliott*, Roger Kerry, Timothy Flynn, Todd B Parrish

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Whiplash associated disorder (WAD) represents an enormous economic, social and personal burden. Five out of 10 people with WAD never fully recover and up to 25% continue to have moderate to severe pain-related disability. Unfortunately, clear and definitive reasons as to why half of individuals with WAD recover uneventfully and the other half do not, remain elusive. Identifying the factors that can reliably predict outcome holds considerable importance for not only WAD, but arguably for other acute musculoskeletal traumas. The precise pathology present in WAD has been controversial and often biased by outdated models. Fortunately, a combination of new measurement technology that illuminates pain processing, physical and social functioning and post-traumatic stress responses (and possibly markers of altered muscle size/shape/physiology) is providing a clearer picture of the multisystem pathophysiology in individuals with persistent WAD. The aim of this professional issues paper is to illuminate the clinical and research communities with regards to the growing body of knowledge for determining the trajectory of a patient with whiplash.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-582
Number of pages5
JournalManual Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • MRI
  • Muscle
  • Pathophysiology
  • Whiplash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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