Does cervical kyphosis relate to symptoms following whiplash injury?

Man Ther. 2011 Aug;16(4):378-83. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2011.01.004. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


The mechanisms for developing long-lasting neck pain after whiplash injuries are still largely unrevealed. In the present study it was investigated whether a kyphotic deformity of the cervical spine, as opposed to a straight or a lordotic spine, was associated with the symptoms at baseline, and with the prognosis one year following a whiplash injury. MRI was performed in 171 subjects about 10 d after the accident, and 104 participated in the pain recording at 1-year follow-up. It was demonstrated that postures as seen on MRI can be reliably categorized and that a straight spine is the most frequent appearance of the cervical spine in supine MRI. In relation to symptoms it was seen that a kyphotic deformity was associated with reporting the highest intensities of headache at baseline, but not with an increased risk of long-lasting neck pain or headache. In conclusion, a kyphotic deformity is not significantly associated with chronic whiplash associated pain. Moreover, it is a clear clinical implication that pain should not be ascribed to a straight spine on MRI. We suggest that future trials on cervical posture focus upon the presence of kyphotic deformity rather than just on the absence of lordosis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kyphosis / complications*
  • Kyphosis / diagnosis
  • Kyphosis / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / etiology*
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*
  • Whiplash Injuries / diagnosis
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology