PainSci summary of Atherton 2006?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.
480 people with neck pain after car accidents completed questionnaires three times during the year after their accident. 128 (27%) reported neck pain every time. “The greatest predictors of persistent neck pain … relate to psychological distress and aspects of pre-collision health rather than to various attributes of the collision itself.” In other words, people who went into the accident with the most stress and body pain were the most likely to suffer chronic neck pain. For a short article discussing this research, see A Recipe for Chronic Neck Pain After Whiplash.
The findings are generally confirmed by more research since. See Carstensen.
original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: To establish the aetiological influences of persistent neck pain following a motor vehicle collision and to construct a model for use in the emergency department for identifying patients at high risk of persistent symptoms.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. Patients recruited from hospital emergency departments were sent a questionnaire to gather information on various exposures. They were followed up at 1, 3, and 12 months to identify those with persistent symptoms.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Persistent neck pain (pain at 1, 3, and 12 months after collision).
RESULTS: The baseline survey included 765 patients. Subsequently, 480 completed a questionnaire at each follow up time point, of whom 128 (27%) reported neck pain on each occasion. Few collision specific factors predicted persistent neck pain. In contrast, a high level of general psychological distress, pre-collision history of widespread body pain, type of vehicle, whiplash associated symptoms, and initial neck disability best predicted the persistence of symptoms. Furthermore, these factors, in combination, accounted for more than a fivefold increase in the risk of persistent neck pain.
CONCLUSION: The greatest predictors of persistent neck pain following a motor vehicle collision relate to psychological distress and aspects of pre-collision health rather than to various attributes of the collision itself. With these factors, and those relating to initial injury severity, it is possible to identify a subgroup of patients presenting with neck pain with the highest risk of persistent symptoms. Thus, it is possible to identify whiplash patients with a poor prognosis and to provide closer follow up and specific attention to management in these individuals.
- “The influence of psychosocial factors on recovery following acute whiplash trauma,” Tina Birgitte Wisbech Carstensen, Dan Med J, 2012.
- “Chronic neck pain and whiplash: A case-control study of the relationship between acute whiplash injuries and chronic neck pain,” MD Freeman, AC Croft, AM Rossignol, CJ Centeno, and WL Elkins, Pain Res Manag, 2006.
Specifically regarding Atherton 2006:
- PS A Recipe for Chronic Neck Pain After Whiplash — Researchers discover some surprising risk factors for chronic neck pain in the aftermath of whiplash
These three articles on PainScience.com cite Atherton 2006 as a source:
- PS Save Yourself from Neck Pain! — A complete guide to chronic neck pain and the disturbing sensation of a “crick”
- PS A Rational Guide to Fibromyalgia — The science of the mysterious disease of pain, exhaustion, and mental fog
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.
- Association of Spinal Manipulative Therapy With Clinical Benefit and Harm for Acute Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Paige 2017 JAMA.