Individuals who have suffered cervical acceleration-deceleration/CAD more commonly known as whiplash, can experience headaches, and other symptoms like neck stiffness, pain, fatigue, and shoulder/neck/back discomfort. Can non-surgical and conservative treatments help alleviate the symptoms?
Table of Contents
Cervical acceleration-deceleration is the mechanism of a neck injury caused by a forceful back-and-forth neck motion. It happens most commonly in rear-end vehicle collisions when the head and neck whip forward and backward with intense acceleration and/or deceleration causing the neck to flex and/or extend rapidly, more than normally, straining and possibly tearing muscle tissues and nerves, ligaments, dislocation of spinal discs and herniations, and cervical bone fractures.
Whiplash symptoms can present right away, or after several hours to a few days after the incident, and tend to worsen in the days after the injury. Symptoms can last a few weeks to a few months, and can severely limit activity and range of motion. Symptoms can include: (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2023)
The most common cause of whiplash is rear-end automobile accidents and collisions. (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2023)
However, cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries can also occur from:
If symptoms do not improve, a healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy and/or stronger pain medications. For whiplash headaches that last for several months, acupuncture, or spinal injections may be recommended.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Whiplash Information Page.
Drottning M. (2003). Cervicogenic headache after a whiplash injury. Current pain and headache reports, 7(5), 384–386. doi.org/10.1007/s11916-003-0038-9
Page P. (2011). Cervicogenic headaches: an evidence-led approach to clinical management. International journal of sports physical therapy, 6(3), 254–266.
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