The effectiveness of infrared thermography in patients with whiplash injury

J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2015 Apr;57(4):283-8. doi: 10.3340/jkns.2015.57.4.283. Epub 2015 Apr 24.


Objective: This study aims to visualize the subjective symptoms before and after the treatment of whiplash injury using infrared (IR) thermography.

Methods: IR thermography was performed for 42 patients who were diagnosed with whiplash injury. There were 19 male and 23 female patients. The mean age was 43.12 years. Thermal differences (ΔT) in the neck and shoulder and changes in the thermal differences (ΔdT) before and after treatment were analyzed. Pain after injury was evaluated using visual analogue scale (VAS) before and after treatment (ΔVAS). The correlations between ΔdT and ΔVAS results before and after the treatment were examined. We used Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging equipment of Dorex company for IR thermography.

Results: The skin temperature of the neck and shoulder immediately after injury showed 1-2℃ hyperthermia than normal. After two weeks, the skin temperature was normal range. ΔT after immediately injuy was higher than normal value, but it was gradually near the normal value after two weeks. ΔdT before and after treatment were statistically significant (p<0.05). VAS of the neck and shoulder significantly reduced after 2 week (p=0.001). Also, there was significant correlation between ΔdT and reduced ΔVAS (the neck; r=0.412, p<0.007) (the shoulder; r=0.648, p<0.000).

Conclusion: The skin temperature of sites with whiplash injury is immediately hyperthermia and gradually decreased after two weeks, finally it got close to normal temperature. These were highly correlated with reduced VAS. IR thermography can be a reliable tool to visualize the symptoms of whiplash injury and the effectiveness of treatment in clinical settings.

Keywords: Infrared thermography; Pain; Thermal difference; Visual analogue scale; Whiplash injury.