Factors associated with pain and disability reduction following exercise interventions in chronic whiplash

Some studies support the prescription of exercise for people with whiplash-associated disorders (WAD); however, the response is highly variable. Additional research is required to identify factors which predict response. Participation in the neck-specific exercise group was the only significant factor related to both neck pain and neck disability reduction both at 3 and 12 months. Patients in this group had up to 5.3 times higher odds of disability reduction and 3.9 times higher odds of pain reduction compared to those in the physical activity group. Different baseline features were identified as predictors of response depending on the time point examined and the outcome measure selected (pain vs. disability).

Factors related to treatment response following exercise interventions differ in the short and long term and differ depending on whether neck pain or disability is considered as the primary outcome. Participation in a neck-specific exercise intervention, in contrast to general physical activity, was the only factor that consistently indicated higher odds of treatment success. These results support the prescription of neck-specific exercise for patients with chronic WAD.