Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Neck FAQ

Question:

I've been having headaches for months after a whiplash injury from a car accident. They say there isn't any nerve damage and by now the muscles have recovered. What causes this kind of pain then?

Answer:

The exact mechanism for whiplash injury remains unknown. As you said, scientists have shown that muscle damage might be part of the acute symptoms, but muscles heal and recover during those first few weeks. Nerve root pain doesn't really cause the kind of symptoms whiplash sufferers report.

A more recent study looked at the impact of whiplash injury on the joints of the lower cervical spine. Facet joints at C4-5 were stressed under normal conditions. Then they were examined under whiplash conditions. The amount of extension was the same in both cases. The speed and shear motion were much greater in the cases of whiplash.

It looks like the stress on the joints and joint capsule may be the source of the problem. This type of information will help doctors, therapists, and chiropractors rethink treatment for symptoms from chronic whiplash injuries. More studies are needed to find out what kind of treatment works best for this problem.

Brian D. Stemper, PhD, et al. Localized Cervical Facet Joint Kinematics Under Physiological and Whiplash Loading. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. December 2005. Vol. 3. No. 6. Pp. 471-476.

*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.
All content provided by eORTHOPOD® is a registered trademark of Medical Multimedia Group, L.L.C.. Content is the sole property of Medical Multimedia Group, LLC and used herein by permission.

Our Specialties

Where Does It Hurt?

Our Locations

  Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow us on YouTube
Follow us on Twitter