Modulation of Cervical Facet Joint Nociception and Pain Attenuates Physical and Psychological Features of Chronic Whiplash: A Prospective Study Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • AbstractObjectiveTo investigate changes in clinical (physical and psychological) features of individuals with chronic whiplash−associated disorder who had previously undergone cervical radiofrequency neurotomy at the time point when the effects of radiofrequency neurotomy had dissipated and pain returned.DesignProspective cohort observational trial of consecutive patients.SettingTertiary spinal intervention centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.PatientsA total of 53 consecutive individuals with chronic whiplash−associated disorder.MethodsIndividuals underwent radiofrequency neurotomy and were assessed before radiofrequency neurotomy, at 1 and 3 months postprocedure, and then after the return of pain (approximately 10 months postprocedure).Main Outcome MeasurementsQuantitative sensory tests (pressure; thermal pain thresholds; brachial plexus provocation test), nociceptive flexion reflex, and motor function (cervical range of movement; craniocervical flexion test) were measured. Self‐reported disability, psychological distress, pain catastrophization, and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms also were measured.ResultsUpon the return of pain after radiofrequency neurotomy, levels of disability increased (P < .0001), and were no different to those before radiofrequency neurotomy (P = .99). There also was a significant deterioration in quantitative sensory testing measures and reduced cervical range of motion after the return of pain (all P < .05); all approaching values were recorded before radiofrequency neurotomy (P > .22). There were no significant changes in pressure hyperalgesia (P > .054) or craniocervical flexion test performance (P > .07) after the return of pain. Psychological distress and pain catastrophizing increased significantly after the return of pain (P < .01), and again were no different than measures taken prior to radiofrequency neurotomy (P > .13). However, there was no difference in number or severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms after the return of pain (P > .30).ConclusionsPhysical and psychological features of chronic whiplash−associated disorder are modulated dynamically with cervical radiofrequency neurotomy. These findings indicate that peripheral nociception is involved in the manifestations of chronic whiplash−associated disorder in this cohort of individuals.


  • Smith, Ashley
  • Jull, Gwendolen
  • Schneider, Geoff M
  • Frizzell, Bevan
  • Hooper, Robert A
  • Sterling, Michele

publication date

  • September 2015