How long does whiplash last

The fluctuation in recovery following whiplash injury 7.5-year prospective review

Injury Volume 36, Issue 6, June 2005, Pages 758-761
P.J. Tomlinson, M.F. Gargan and G.C. Bannister

Article contains information on whiplash statistical information and addresses how long does whiplash last.


  • The psychological symptoms suffered by whiplash patients are secondary to physical injury.
  • Whiplash statistical information
    In this prospective study, 7.5 years after sustaining whiplash injury: (whiplash statistical information)
    A. 29% of the patients had no symptoms.
    B. 48% had mild symptoms that did not interfere with work or leisure.
    C. 21% had intrusive symptoms that interfered with work and leisure and required continued treatment and drugs.
    D. 2% had severe problems that required ongoing medical investigations and drugs. This means that 71 % of patients had symptoms 7.5 years after being injured.

How long does whiplash last?

  • The symptoms of whiplash-injured patients fluctuate widely during a 7.5 year period.
  • It takes 2 years for whiplash symptoms to stabilize.
  • 64% of whiplash-injured patients have the same symptom severity at 7.5 years that they had at 3 months.  Therefore, most [64%] whiplash-injured patients require intensive management during the first 3 months following injury if there is any hope of altering this long-term chronicity.
  • 17% of whiplash-injured patients will have symptom improvement between 3 months and 7.5 years.
  • 19% of whiplash-injured patients will have symptom deterioration between 3 months and 7.5 years.
  • "Between 3 months and 2 years symptoms fluctuate significantly and during this time any estimation of patients' prognosis will be unreliable." [Very Important]
  • The cause of this fluctuation is "important in medico-legal reporting since patients' outcome can only 'be predicted at 3 months and not confirmed until 2 years." [Very Important]
  • "Therapeutically, the greatest potential for influencing the natural history of whiplash is within 3 months before symptoms become established."
  • [I believe that in an effort to reduce chronic pain and disability from whiplash injuries, we     should treat the patient daily for 2 weeks and then 3X per week for 10 weeks.]
  • [The assertion that whiplash-injured patients should recover in 6-12 weeks is absurd.]

DAN MURPHY. D.C., D.A.B.C.O. graduated magna cum laude from Western States Chiropractic College in 1978 and has more than 20 years of practice experience. He received his Diplomate in Orthopedics in 1986. Dr. Murphy has served as a part-time faculty member of Life Chiropractic College West since 1982. Internationally recognized for his lectures, Dr. Murphy has taught more than 1,000 seminars in the US and around the world. He currently serves as the Vice President of the ICA.

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Whiplash Frontal Impact
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Whiplash | Fact or Fiction?
Whiplash: Fact or Fiction? The American Journal of Orthopedics January 2005 Jeff S. Silber, MD, Victor M. Hayes, MD. Jason Lipetz, MD, and Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD read more HERE

How long does whiplash last?
In this prospective study, 7.5 years after sustaining whiplash injury: (whiplash statistical information) read more HERE

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