Headache in Whiplash Injury

What is a whiplash?

The term 'whiplash' is used to describe the movement made by a person's neck in certain types of accident. The most familiar type of accident causing it is when a stationary car with a driver in it is hit by a vehicle coming from behind. The driver's head is then first thrown violently backwards and then forwards again. But a whiplash injury can also occur if the car is hit from the front or the side. Even if there are no fractures of the victim's neck, such accidents can initially cause considerable pains in the neck. Other situations that can lead to whiplash injuries include sports accidents, violence and falls.


The cause of headaches occurring after a whiplash injury remains unclear. Experts assume that the cervical vertebrae, facet joints and intervertebral discs are involved in this type of headache.

Signs and symptoms

The most commonly reported complaints are headache, neck pain (which worsens when patients move their neck) and restricted neck mobility. In addition, patients may report shoulder complaints, dizziness, memory and concentration problems, which may last for a long time.

How is a whiplash diagnosed?

If you visit our clinic because of headaches after a whiplash injury, you will always be given a neurological examination to exclude the possibility of a slipped disc in your neck. In addition, the doctor will test the mobility of your neck and shoulder, to see whether certain movements are restricted or painful. The doctor will also feel your neck to see whether pressing on any of the vertebrae causes pain.

Do I need additional examinations?

  • Diagnostic examination for other non-physical factors important for your pain, have already been done by yourself trough filling out your pain questionnaires.
  • If necessary, X-rays of the neck can be made.
  • An MRI scan of the neck is only useful to exclude other causes of your pain.
  • An MRI scan can be made to investigate your shoulder complaints.
  • Memory problems are usually investigated by means of neuropsychological tests.
  • If you suffer from dizzy spells, the doctor may do a vestibular examination.

What are my treatment possibilities?

Multidisciplinary Treatment

Depending on the cause of your pain, your pain specialist will decide whether or not to embark on physical treatment. Based on the results of the completed pain questionnaire, additional examinations can be carried out and, apart from physical treatment, other methods of treatment will be suggested.

Non-physical Treatments

If the results of your pain questionnaire are abnormal, your pain specialist will offer you one of the non-physical treatments listed below:

Physical Treatments


Other Treatments

Interventional Pain Treatments


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