A couple of studies conducted by the University of North Carolina have revealed that genes affected the study participants’ response to pain shortly after the accident and up to six weeks later.
The studies were conducted using information gathered from nearly 1,000 adults who have been involved in automobile accidents. Because of inherent genetic variations in the test group, different people responded differently to pain intensity.
Dr. Samuel McLean said the findings are significant especially for people who seem to have substantial persistent pain, without visible objective findings. Typically, those people with only subjective complaints are considered to be suspicious and sometimes do not receive treatment they need. This study now provides a genetic basis for these different responses to pain.
Prior studies have shown that pain following an automobile crash is not entirely related to traumatic damage to tissue but might be further influenced by physiological responses to the collision. In the current study, participants had a blood sample taken immediately after the accident in the emergency room and again six weeks later. On both occasions the extent and severity of the pain suffered by the participants was documented.
One study looked at the role played by dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with processing pain. The result was that the severity of pain felt by someone immediately following a collision would vary because people had different genes.
Another study looked at the role played by the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis, which helps individuals respond to stressful events. The resulting discovery was that different gene variations were related to more intense body pain and a 20% higher risk or moderate to severe neck pain after six weeks.
Dr. McLean said that this opens new doors for treating people who have been exposed to traumatic events like an automobile accident. Until now, physicians have always been told that if there is something wrong with a patient, there would be objective evidence of it in the form of an X-ray, an MRI or some other diagnostic tool. Based upon these new findings, subjective pain can be caused by genes, which have nothing to do with physical evidence such as a fracture.
It is thought that these developments can lead to dramatic new ways to treat pain in different individuals. For now, the doctors who are involved in pain management for patients see the identification of the biology of pain as being a giant step forward.
If you, or a close family member, have been injured in a car accident, you need to seek advice from a North Carolina attorney experienced in handling car accident cases. We can help you get the medical care you need, work with the insurance company to get your car repaired and negotiate the best possible settlement for you when your medical care is completed.
Auger & Auger is a Charlotte law firm that has 40 years of experience handling serious personal injury and wrongful death cases arising out of car accidents.
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Contact us through our website or call us direct at (704) 364-3361 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation. All cases handled on a contingency basis. No fee is owed our firm unless we make a recovery for you.
Pain Level After Car Crash Could Depend on Your Genes, Studies Say, US News, Article by Maureen Salamon, October 16, 2012
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Eleven People Die From Car Accidents in One Week, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 18, 2012