Five to ten-year prognosis of whiplash injury-related chronic neck pain: A brief report

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2023;36(1):271-275. doi: 10.3233/BMR-220002.


Background: Whiplash injury-related neck pain frequently hinders daily life activities, resulting in poor quality of life. Recovery time is prolonged in many patients. Long-term outcomes of refractory whiplash injury-related neck pain remain poorly understood.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the long-term prognosis of chronic whiplash injury-related neck pain.

Methods: We evaluated the prognosis of 38 patients with whiplash injury-induced neck pain via phone interviews. We investigated the data on current presence and degree of neck pain, current pain medication, physical modality or injection procedures, and difficulty performing daily life activities or occupational duties.

Results: At least 5 years after the whiplash injury, 34 patients (89.5%) experienced whiplash injury-related neck pain. The average numeric rating scale (NRS) score on the initial visit to our spine center was 5.3 ± 1.7 and that at the follow-up interview was 4.3 ± 2.6. Twenty-six (68.4%) patients had pain scores ⩾ 3 on the NRS. Additionally, 26 (68.4%) patients were receiving at least one of the following pain-management treatments: oral pain medications, physical modality, and injection procedures. Twenty-eight (73.7%) patients encountered difficulty performing daily life activities and occupational duties.

Conclusions: The long-term prognosis of patients with whiplash injury-related neck pain was found to be poor.

Keywords: Whiplash injuries; cervical vertebrae; chronic pain; neck pain; prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Whiplash Injuries* / complications