Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ


I had a minor fender bender last July. I still have headaches and neck pain. And I'm starting to notice problems with concentrating and memory. Can a whiplash injury get worse over time instead of better?


You may be experiencing a transition from the acute injury to a more chronic whiplash syndrome. Patients with ongoing symptoms from a whiplash injury are said to have a whiplash associated disorder (WAD).

Symptoms linked with WAD can include headaches, neck pain, changes in vision, and dizziness. Muscle weakness and numbness or tingling are also possible. Difficulties with memory and concentration have been reported along with negative mood or mood swings.

The force of the injury isn't always consistent with the symptoms experienced. And the degree of injury doesn't always predict who will or won't develop WAD.

At best, studies show that patients with the highest level of symptoms early after an accident have the worse outcomes and prognosis. Karoline Vangronsveld, et al. Applying the Fear-Avoidance Model to Chronic Whiplash Syndrome. In Pain Vol. 130. No. 3 Pp. 258-261.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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