Can Whiplash Treatment Outcomes be Predicted Early on?


woman in car accident having whiplash

Whiplash Associated Disorders (WAD) usually affect the neck and most of the injuries which lead to them occur in car crashes.

It’s estimated that about half of all people with WAD will suffer the consequences of their injuries for the long term, with chronic pain.

But can whiplash treatment outcomes be predicted early on?

A new study has examined a sampling of people with WAD to determine the likelihood of long-term disability arising.  The issue is an important one, as these injuries can represent a significant lifestyle impact for those who suffer from them chronically.  There’s also the reality of caregiving, lost work hours and other spin off results which have a material social impact.

Study Findings

Study findings were derived from 12 systemic reviews.  Conclusions identified several factors which predicted chronic pain in WAD patients:

  • More pain immediately following injury, causing a higher level of disability
  • A higher level of WAD (at II or III)
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Anxiety following injury
  • Obtaining legal counsel
  • Immediate resort to medical care
  • Believing the injury to be more acute than it is

You will note that not all these factors relate directly to clinical pain levels, the nature of the accident provoking the WAD or diagnostic results.  It’s interesting to see that patients whose pain was chronic were more likely to source healthcare in short order, as well as legal counsel.  This may stem from a tendency found among this patient group to worry more intensely about the fallout of their injury and the belief that they were more seriously injured than they were.

Companion Studies

The findings of the study outlined above are reflected in other studies which found a direct correlation between chronic pain and psychological factors.  In some cases, patients reported lower back pain concurrent with their WAD.  Also reported by at least one patient was carpal tunnel syndrome.

Certainly, more research is needed to be able to accurately predict treatment outcomes at the acute stage (post-injury).  Information arising can be applied to early intervention treatment models and assist in preventing the progression of WAD to chronic, long-term disability.

Late Onset

Many WAD patients experience no symptoms following an injury.  Believing themselves to be “OK”, they keep doing what they’re doing until, one day, they’re pain.  This can encompass the neck, shoulders, upper arms and upper back, in some cases.

Some patients report no symptoms for weeks or even months after the incident which resulted in WAD.

I often see patients long after the injury has occurred.  Sometimes, they’ve been to other medical service providers in search of relief and are coming to me as a last resort.

And that’s fine, because I work with a team of clinicians offering acupuncture, physical therapy and sports medicine services.  As a chiropractor, the team I work with is uniquely placed to resolve pain with multi-disciplinarian care.

Back & Body Medical New York

Patients suffering with long-term symptoms arising from whiplash are invited to schedule an appointment.  Our award-winning team has the pain relief solution you’re seeking.








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