CAN going for a walk or a gentle bike ride help whiplash victims suffering from chronic neck pain?
Researchers in Queensland are looking for adults up to the age of 55 with chronic neck pain due to whiplash to take part in a study to see if low-intensity exercise could be a practical alternative to medication.
Participants will be required to complete a free, eight-week exercise intervention program which will be supervised by a physiotherapy researcher and an exercise physiologist.
Dr Rutger de Zoete from UQ's Recover Injury Research Centre said the study aimed to improve treatment options and health outcomes for sufferers.
"You don't need to lift heavy weights or run long distances every day, but if we can better understand how the brain responds to different types of exercise and how this may reduce physical pain, we can tailor new treatment programs to help those suffering from chronic conditions," he said.
Dr de Zoete said about half of people who sustained an injury leading to whiplash continued to experience symptoms for several years.
"With limited and often ineffective treatment options available, whiplash can lead to severe disability, reduced psychosocial status and loss of work," Dr de Zoete said.
He said while people experiencing pain may not feel like exercising, it could be a practical alternative to medication.
"We are investigating the effects of low-intensity physical exercise on chronic pain and the subsequent changes in the structure and function of the brain.
"We know from research in other chronic pain conditions that exercise can have a positive effect on our bodies, but our aim is to identify whether the underlying key to these effects could be the brain."
In Australia, whiplash is responsible for healthcare costs exceeding $350 million per year.
Figures show a third of people involved in motor vehicle accidents will go on to develop a chronic pain condition with moderate to severe symptoms.
The research team is also looking for adults without neck pain who will act as control participants.
As part of the program, participants will also need to attend UQ's Herston campus in Brisbane for three one-hour testing sessions involving MRI scanning and blood sampling.
To find out more about the study and how you can participate click HERE
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