Headache & Neck Pain After Whiplash

Researchers have shown that about 90% of whiplash victims will report headache as part of their post-injury complaint.  Sometimes the headaches wont show for a few weeks after the accident.  But when they do, there are several things that need to be considered.


Cervicogenic Headache

cervicogenic headaches after whiplash

Inflammation of the nerves in the neck following whiplash can create headaches.

The most common headache after a car crash is the cervicogenic headache.   The word cervicogenic means “originating in the neck.”  The neck has many nerves as well as ligaments and tendons.  When these structures are injured in a whiplash, the nerves become irritated.  Even though the nerves are located in the neck, the brain will interpret their irritation as head pain.


Muscle Tension Headaches

Muscle Tension Headache

Muscle tension headaches tend to create pain behind the eyes and sometimes feel like a tight hat-band.

Because of the violent movement of the head and the body’s effort to protect itself during the crash, strain to the muscles is often unavoidable.  The resulting spasm created myofacial pain syndromes, and trigger points.  These spasms lower the pain threshold of the nerves and create feedback to the neck and head.  The resulting headaches typically affect the sides the head, above the ears and behind the eyes.



migraine releif St George Utah

Irritation of the blood vessles of the neck and head can lead to migraine headaches.

Migraines are not the most serious but they can be debilitating for some people.  Migraine headaches can cause people to miss work and lose productivity.  Migraine headaches appear to be vascular related.  The blood vessels serving the brain either dilate or constrict too much.  This alters the flow of normal blood, causing severe pain and sometimes, neurologic problems.  For people who are regular migraine sufferers, they tend to have an increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of their migraines.


Brain and Vascular Injury

Concussion Injury to Brain

Concussions need to be treated with mental rest as well as physical rest. St George Chiropractor, Dr. Andrew White has special training in dealing with concussion injuries related to whiplash and car accidents.

Injury to the blood vessels in your neck is not a common occurrence with whiplash, but can be very serious.  The symptoms of vascular injury are loss of consciousness, dizziness, vertigo, faintness, blurry vision, neck pain, and headache.  These symptoms tend to worsen over a few days.  Vascular injury secondary to whiplash is slightly more common in the elderly and in those who smoke.

Traumatic brain injury can also cause headaches. During a collision, the brain gets bounced around in the head, causing a contra-coup injury.  These are serious injuries and takes months to heal.  There is a detailed treatment protocol to heal from a TBI.


See a chiropractor for proper diagnosis following a whiplash

Because a headache can be a symptom of something simple like a cervicogenic headache, or something more severe like a TBI or vascular injury, every person who has been injured in a car crash should visit with a properly trained chiropractor who has special interest in treating whiplash. Call our office today for an appointment to discuss your options for treating your headache pain.


Dr. Andrew White | St George Chiropractor
Featured image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and sixninepixels, David Castillo Dominici, Marcolm

Whiplash and Spinal Trauma Chiropractor St George UT

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