Chronic neck pain common among car crash victims, but most don't sue

A new study led by University of North Carolina School of Medicine researchers is the first large prospective study to evaluate musculoskeletal pain outcomes after motor vehicle collision in the U.S.

Nearly 4 million in the U.S. come to hospital emergency departments for evaluation after motor vehicle collision each year. More than 90 percent of these individuals are discharged to home after evaluation. Results of the study, which enrolled individuals from eight emergency departments in four states, indicate that persistent pain is common in this population. Six weeks after their accident, more than 70 percent of individuals reported persistent musculoskeletal pain in one or more body regions. More than one third of study participants reported pain in four or more body regions.

"In the U.S., if someone develops or other pain after a car accident, and they go to their doctor or tell their friends, they are often not believed or are viewed with great suspicion, as if their symptoms are not real and they are just trying to sue someone," said Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, first author of the study and associate professor of anesthesiology and emergency medicine. "Our findings indicate that persistent pain is very common among those who aren't suing, and that only a minority of those with persistent pain are engaged in litigation."

Among 948 individuals enrolled in the study, only 17 percent had contacted a lawyer for planned litigation six weeks after their accident. Among the majority of individuals who were not planning litigation, persistent pain was still common: 28 percent had persistent moderate or severe neck pain, 13 percent had widespread musculoskeletal pain in seven or more body regions, and 4 percent had a fibromyalgia-like syndrome.

"It is hard enough to be suffering from a condition after trauma that is moderate or severe, and/or occurring across many body regions. Unfortunately, these patients also often have to deal with the additional burden not being believed. Hopefully the results of this study will contribute to helping doctors and the public understand that these symptoms are common, including among patients who aren't suing anyone."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Many women suffer persistent pain after mastectomy

Nov 14, 2013

(HealthDay)—Although breast cancer treatments have dramatically improved outcomes for women with the disease, ongoing pain continues to trouble many survivors long after they undergo a mastectomy, a new ...

Recommended for you

Sexual fantasies: Are you normal?

3 hours ago

Hoping for sex with two women is common but fantasizing about golden showers is not. That's just one of the findings from a research project that scientifically defines sexual deviation for the first time ever. It was undertaken ...

AMA 'Code of Ethics' offers guidance for physicians

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Ethics and other articles provide guidance for physicians in relation to public health emergencies, according to a report from the AMA.

Pot-infused edibles: One toke over the line in Colorado?

13 hours ago

Marijuana shops have sprouted across Denver ever since Colorado legalized the drug for adults in January, but the popularity of pot-infused edibles has surprised authorities, and parents are seeking a ban ahead of Halloween.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.