A series of 35 patients presenting with soft tissue injuries of the cervical spine were reviewed clinically and radiographically after an average of 10.8 years. Symptoms persisted in 86 per cent and were intrusive or worse in 23 per cent. On presentation, paraesthesia, thoracolumbar back pain and multiple symptoms were predictive of continuing symptoms and their severity. Degenerative changes of the cervical spine were present in 68 per cent of the patients, of whom 87 per cent were symptomatic. Of those with normal radiographs, 80 per cent were symptom-free. Degenerative changes occurred significantly more frequently in patients who had sustained soft tissue injuries than in a control population.