OBJECTIVE OF THE INVESTIGATION: In a 6-month prospective study of 141 consecutive acute whiplash-injured participants, and 40 acute, ankle-injured controls, pain and tenderness in the neck/head, and at a distant control site, were measured.
Basic procedures: Muscle palpation and pressure algometry in five head/neck muscle-pairs were performed after 1 week and 1, 3 and 6 months after injury. Algometry was performed at a distant control site.
Main findings: Whiplash-injured patients had lowered pressure-pain-detection thresholds and higher palpation-score initially in the neck/head, but the groups were similar after 6 months, and the control site was not sensitized.
Principal conclusion: Focal, but not generalized, sensitization to musculoskeletal structure is present until 3 months, but not 6 months, after whiplash injury, and probably does not play a major role in the development of late whiplash syndrome. Pressure algometry and palpation are useful clinical tools in the evaluation of neck and jaw pain in acute whiplash injury.