The following information is from the British Journal of bone and joint surgery
The Lingering Effects of Whiplash
Soft-tissue Injuries of the Cervical Spine 15-year Follow-up
- At a mean of 15.5 years post whiplash trauma, 70% of whiplash-injured patients continued to complain of symptoms referable to the original accident.
- Long-term symptoms from whiplash injury include neck pain, are paresthesia, back pain, headache, dizziness, and tinnitus.
- Women and older patients have a worse outcome from whiplash injuries.
- Radiating arm pain is more common in those with severe symptoms.
- Between 10 and 15 years after the accident, 18% of the patients had improved, whereas 28% deteriorated.
- Soft-tissue injuries to the cervical spine may give persisting symptoms.
- Most whiplash-injured patients reach their final state by two years after being injured, but this study shows ongoing symptom fluctuation between years 10 and 15.
- At the 15-year follow-up, neck pain was present in 65% and low-back pain was present in 48%.
- 80% of women and 50% of men continued to have symptoms at 15 years.
- Back pain and tinnitus increased between years 10 and 15.
- Symptoms remained static in 54%, improved in 18% and worsened in 28%.
- Degenerative changes are associated with a worse prognosis for recovery.
- 60% of symptomatic patients had not seen a doctor in the previous five years because the doctors were unable to help them.
18% had taken early retirement due to health problems, which they related to the whiplash injury.
- Whiplash symptoms do not improve after settlement of litigation.
- Most radiating pain is referral from the facets, and not radicular.
- Chronic whiplash symptoms will cause an abnormal psychological assessment after 3 months.
- In this study, 100% of patients with severe ongoing problems had cervical spinal degeneration.
**Reference: Journal of Borne and Joint Surgery (British). November 1996, Vol. 78-B, No. 6, pp. 955-7. B. Squires, M. F. Gargan, G. C. Bannister: From the University of Bristol, England