Forty patients with a whiplash injury who had been reviewed previously 2 and 10 years after injury were assessed again after a mean of 15.5 years by physical examination, pain and psychometric testing.
Twenty-eight (70%) continued to complain of symptoms referable to the original accident. Neck pain was the commonest, but low-back pain was present in half. Women and older patients had a worse outcome. Radiating pain was more common in those with severe symptoms.
Evidence of psychological disturbance was seen in 52% of patients with symptoms. Between 10 and 15 years after the accident 18% of the patients had improved whereas 28% had deteriorated.