Skip to main content

Neck pain and disability following motor vehicle accidents—a cohort study

Abstract

The primary aim of the study was to compare the prevalence of neck pain and disability in a group exposed to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) with those in the general population. The secondary aim was to assess the prevalence of a past history of exposure to an MVA with sequelae of neck pain in the general population. The exposed group consisted of 121 patients with neck complaints following an MVA in 1983. The control group, consisting of 1,491 subjects, was randomly selected, with attention to the distribution of age and gender in the exposed group. A neck-pain questionnaire was mailed to the subjects. In the control group, it included enquiry about a history of exposure to an MVA with sequelae of neck pain. The Neck Disability Index (NDI) was used to assess neck-related disability. In the exposed group 108 subjects (89%) responded, and in the control group 931 (62%) did. Seventeen years after the MVA, 59 subjects (55%) reported neck pain in the exposed group, with no gender differences. In the control group 270 (29%) reported neck pain with a higher frequency among women (34%) than men (19%) (p<0.01). There was a significant difference between the exposed group and the control group regarding the occurrence of neck pain (p<0.001). In the control group 34% recalled a history of an MVA, among whom one-third reported neck pain in connection with the accident and 28% had persistent neck pain referable to the accident. The exposed group scored significantly higher on the NDI (p<0.001) and reported significantly higher neck pain intensity than did the control group (p<0.001). In conclusion, a past history of exposure to an MVA with sequelae of neck pain appears to have a substantial impact on future persistent neck pain and associated disability.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2 a

References

  1. 1.

    Berglund A, Alfredsson L, Cassidy JD, Jensen I, Nygren A (2000) The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future neck or shoulder pain: a cohort study. J Clin Epidemiol 53:1089–1094

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Berglund A, Alfredsson L, Jensen I, Cassidy JD, Nygren A (2001) The association between exposure to a rear-end collision and future health complaints. J Clin Epidemiol 54:851–856

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Bogduk N, Lord SM (1998) Cervical spine disorders. Curr Opin Rheumatol 10:110–115

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Bovim G, Schrader H, Sand T (1994) Neck pain in the general population. Spine 19:1307–1309

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Bunketorp L, Nordholm L, Carlsson J (2002) A descriptive analysis of disorders in patients 17 years following motor vehicle accidents. Eur Spine J 11:227–234

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Côté P, Cassidy JD, Carroll L (1998) The Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey. The prevalence of neck pain and related disability in Saskatchewan adults. Spine 23:1689–1698

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Côté P, Cassidy JD, Carroll L (2000) Is a lifetime history of neck injury in a traffic collision associated with prevalent neck pain, headache and depressive symptomatology? Accid Anal Prev 32:151–159

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Croft PR, Lewis M, Papageorgiou AC et al (2001) Risk factors for neck pain: a longitudinal study in the general population. Pain 93:317–325

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Fairbank JC, Couper J, Davies JB, O’Brien JP (1980) The Oswestry low back pain disability questionnaire. Physiotherapy 66:271–273

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Ferrari R, Schrader H (2001) The late whiplash syndrome: a biopsychosocial approach. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 70:722–726

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Guez M, Hildingsson C, Nilsson M, Toolanen G (2002) The prevalence of neck pain: a population-based study from northern Sweden. Acta Orthop Scand 73:455–459

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Hasvold T, Johnsen R (1993) Headache and neck or shoulder pain—frequent and disabling complaints in the general population. Scand J Prim Health Care 11:219–224

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Hildingsson C, Toolanen G (1990) Outcome after soft-tissue injury of the cervical spine. A prospective study of 93 car-accident victims. Acta Orthop Scand 61:357–359

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Hoving JL, O’Leary EF, Niere KR, Green S, Buchbinder R (2003) Validity of the neck disability index, Northwick Park neck pain questionnaire, and problem elicitation technique for measuring disability associated with whiplash-associated disorders. Pain 102:273–281

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Makela M, Heliovaara M, Sievers K, Impivaara O, Knekt P, Aromaa A (1991) Prevalence, determinants, and consequences of chronic neck pain in Finland. Am J Epidemiol 134:1356–1367

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Norris SH, Watt I (1983) The prognosis of neck injuries resulting from rear-end vehicle collisions. J Bone Joint Surg Br 65:608–611

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Obelieniene D, Schrader H, Bovim G, Miseviciene I, Sand T (1999) Pain after whiplash: a prospective controlled inception cohort study. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 66:279–283

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Radanov BP, Sturzenegger M, Di Stefano G (1995) Long-term outcome after whiplash injury. A 2-year follow-up considering features of injury mechanism and somatic, radiologic, and psychosocial findings. Medicine (Baltimore) 74:281–297

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Soderlund A, Olerud C, Lindberg P (2000) Acute whiplash-associated disorders (WAD): the effects of early mobilization and prognostic factors in long-term symptomatology. Clin Rehabil 14:457–467

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Spitzer WO, Skovron ML, Salmi LR et al (1995) Scientific monograph of the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders: redefining “whiplash” and its management. Spine 20:1S-73S

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Stovner LJ (1996) The nosologic status of the whiplash syndrome: a critical review based on a methodological approach. Spine 21:2735–2746

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Van der Donk J, Schouten JS, Passchier J, van Romunde LK, Valkenburg HA (1991) The associations of neck pain with radiological abnormalities of the cervical spine and personality traits in a general population. J Rheumatol 18:1884–1889

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Vernon H, Mior S (1991) The Neck Disability Index: a study of reliability and validity. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 14:409–415

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Yoganandan N, Cusick JF, Pintar FA, Rao RD (2001) Whiplash injury determination with conventional spine imaging and cryomicrotomy. Spine 26:2443–2448

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lina Bunketorp.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bunketorp, L., Stener-Victorin, E. & Carlsson, J. Neck pain and disability following motor vehicle accidents—a cohort study. Eur Spine J 14, 84–89 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-004-0766-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Neck pain
  • Prevalence
  • Whiplash
  • Cohort study