Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Higher Neck Pain Intensity and Pain Catastrophizing Soon After A Whiplash Injury Partially Explain the Presence of Persistent Headache: A Prospective Study.

OBJECTIVE: To understand whether pain-related factors soon after a whiplash injury can explain the presence of chronic headache.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective study with a follow-up of 6 months was performed, including 42 patients with acute whiplash-associated disorders. Neck pain intensity, the Neck Disability Index, the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, and the Anxiety State-Trait Scale were assessed at baseline. Differences in clinical characteristics between those with and without headache at 6 months were determined. The relative risk of presenting with headache was evaluated. A logistic regression model was performed to assess which factors at baseline could explain the presence of headache at 6 months.

RESULTS: At 6 months, one-third of the sample presented with chronic headache. Significant differences were found for several outcome measures when people with and without headache were compared ( P <0.001). The highest relative risk of presenting with headache was found for moderate/severe levels of pain catastrophizing during the acute phase (RR=15.00, 95% CI=3.93, 57.22). The level of neck pain intensity and pain catastrophizing at baseline partially explained the presence of headache at 6 months ( R2 =0.627).

DISCUSSION: The risk of presenting with persistent headache attributed to a whiplash injury is increased when people present with higher neck pain intensity and pain catastrophizing soon after a whiplash injury. Evaluating neck pain intensity and pain catastrophizing at baseline may assist in identifying those more likely to develop chronic headache, potentially providing an opportunity for early targeted interventions.

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