AbstractBackgroundChronic whiplash-associated disorders (WADs) are often associated with social functioning problems and decreased ability to perform previous activities. This may lead to decreased life satisfaction, which is insufficiently studied in the context of whiplash injuries. Symptoms included in chronic WAD are similar to symptoms frequently reported by persons who have sustained mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI)/concussion. In cases of MTBI, the severity and number of symptoms have been suggested to have a diagnostic value. The corresponding importance of symptoms in chronic WAD has not been documented. Most studies of whiplash injuries have focused on neck pain because this is the dominant complaint, while other symptoms are less studied. The frequency of long-term symptoms after whiplash injuries seems to vary. It is difficult to compare the long-term outcome since the follow-up after whiplash injury in most studies has been rather short. Therefore, the primary aim of this investigation was to study neck pain and other symptoms, disability, and life satisfaction five years after whiplash injury in a defined population and geographical area.MethodsThe study was carried out at a public hospital in northern Sweden and was a cross-sectional survey of patients five years after the injury event in a cohort of whiplash-injured patients. Five years after the emergency department visit, 186 persons aged 18–64 answered questionnaires on symptoms (Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, RPQ), disabilities (Rivermead Head Injury Follow Up Questionnaire, RHFUQ), and life satisfaction (LiSat-11). The answers were compared to those of a comparison cohort.ResultsThe most common symptoms five years after whiplash injury were fatigue (41%), poor memory (39%), and headache (37%). Inability to sustain previous workload (44%) and fatigue at work (43%) were frequently reported disabilities. Only 39% were satisfied with their somatic health and 60% with their psychological health. Compared with healthy controls, the whiplash injured exhibited more symptoms and had lower life satisfaction. Women reported significantly higher pain intensity than men. Few significant differences between women and men regarding the other parameters were found.ConclusionsThis study shows that five years after a whiplash injury, patients reported symptoms that are typical of mild traumatic brain injury. Further, this study emphasizes the possibility of screening patients with chronic WAD for these symptoms as a complement to the assessment.ImplicationsUntreated symptoms may negatively affect the outcome of pain rehabilitation. This implies that it might be clinically meaningful to quantify symptoms earlier in the rehabilitation process
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Oct 1, 2014
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