Progressive systemic sclerosis (SSc), or scleroderma, is described as, "A chronic disease of unknown cause, characterized by diffuse fibrosis; degenerative changes; and vascular abnormalities in the skin, articular structures, and internal organs (especially the esophagus, intestinal tract, lung, heart, and kidney)."1

In this study2, the authors describe five case studies of patients who developed SSc after physical trauma. Two of the five were in whiplash accidents. The first patient, a 47-year-old woman, developed symptoms of SSc within a month of her injury; the second patient, a 40-year-old woman, developed her condition 8 weeks after her accident.

"Our observations of the development or exacerbation of SSc following different forms of trauma raise the possibility that trauma can be associated with the onset or an exacerbation of the disease in a small minority of patients. Any causative link must clearly be complex. If a link between trauma and SSc does exist, it seems likely that this simply advances the course of the disease rather than being fundamentally responsible for its development."

  1. The Merck Manual, Sixteenth Edition, 1992. Page 1321.
  2. Anisur Rahman MA, Jayson MIV, Black CM. Five patients who developed systemic sclerosis shortly after episodes of physical trauma. The Journal of Rheumatology 1996;23(10):1816-1817.