Predicting central sensitisation - whiplash patients

Aust Fam Physician. 2010 Nov;39(11):863-6.


Background: Central sensitisation is associated with chronic pain in whiplash patients. Predicting which patients will develop central sensitisation is difficult but patient expectations of recovery predict a variety of outcomes in whiplash patients.

Method: Ninety-one whiplash patients were assessed within 1 week of their collision in order to ascertain their expectations of recovery and were then re-examined 3 months later with the Brachial Plexus Provocation Test (BPPT) as a sign of central sensitisation.

Results: Adjusting for a number of predictors, patient expectation of recovery was found to predict the results of the BPPT. Subjects who expected 'to get better soon' had a BPPT angle that was 42 degrees less (ie. closer to normal or full range) than any of the subjects who had poor recovery expectations.

Discussion: Whiplash patients who expect 'never to get better' or 'don't know' have a much higher likelihood of developing at least one sign of central sensitisation 3 months after their collision.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brachial Plexus / injuries*
  • Brachial Plexus / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*
  • Whiplash Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Young Adult