Historic Whiplash Article Review
We reviewed 43 patients who had sustained soft-tissue injuries of the neck after a mean 10.8 years. Of these, only 12% had recovered completely. Residual symptoms were intrusive in 28% and severe in 12%. Pain in the neck and lower back was the most common complaint and older patients had a worse prognosis. After two years, symptoms did not alter with further passage of time.
KEY POINTS FROM DR. DAN MURPHY
1. In patients who had sustained soft-tissue injuries of the neck after a mean 10.8 years:
A. Only 12% had recovered completely.
B. Residual symptoms were intrusive in 28%.
C. Residual symptoms were severe in 12%.
2. Neck and low back pain were the most common complaints 10.8 years after whiplash injury.
3. Older patients have a worse prognosis.
4. After two years, symptoms did not alter with further passage of time.
5. Residual symptoms at 10.8 years following whiplash injury include neck pain (74%), paraesthesia (45%), lower back pain (42%), headache (33%), dizziness (19%), auditory symptoms (14%), dysphagia (2%), visual symptoms (2%).
6. “Auditory symptoms comprised tinnitus and deafness.”
7. In this study, 40% of the whiplash injured patients suffered from significant disabling symptoms that required continued treatment 10.8 years after being injured.
8. Thirty-five percent of those injured in motor vehicle collisions will experience delayed symptoms. [Important]
9. “Seat-belts alone afford no protection [against hyperextension whiplash injuries].”
10. In the review of a number of whiplash studies, “it would seem that most patients have reached their final state within two years of injury.”
11. “Patients with objective neurological signs and restriction of neck movement were more likely to experience continuing symptoms.”
12. The fact that symptoms do not resolve even after a mean ten years supports the conclusion that litigation does not prolong symptoms.
Dr. Dan Murphy graduated magna cum laude from Western States Chiropractic College in 1978. He received Diplomat status in Chiropractic Orthopedics in 1986. Since 1982, Dr. Murphy has served part-time as undergraduate faculty at Life Chiropractic College West, currently teaching classes to seniors in the management of spinal disorders. He has taught more than 2000 postgraduate continuing education seminars. Dr. Murphy is a contributing author to both editions of the book Motor Vehicle Collision Injuries and to the book Pediatric Chiropractic.
Long-Term Prognosis of Soft-Tissue Injuries of the Neck
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (British)
Vol. 72-B, No. 5, September 1990, pp. 901-3 by M. F. Gargan and G. C. Bannister, University of Bristol, UK