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6 Questions About Whiplash Headaches

Whiplash injuries from a motor vehicle accident can often leave you with headaches. Here’s some tips on how to alleviate that pain.

First off, what exactly is a whiplash injury?

Whiplash is a condition that occurs when the neck has been overextended through rapid back-and-forth motion. It’s very common in car accidents. Imagine smashing into another car or other object and the effect that would have on your neck.

What are the symptoms of whiplash headache?

Patients with headache after a whiplash injury will typically experience pain in the back of the head where the head meets the neck.  

This pain may radiate to the temples, the top of the head, the front of the head or down the neck.  The pain could be intermittent or constant. It could be made worse when you move your neck, reading, using a computer monitor or texting on your phone.

These headaches may be associated with dizziness or a sensation that the room is spinning.

When do these whiplash headaches usually develop?

Headache after whiplash injury often shows itself for the first time on the morning after the accident. The pain sweeps up from the neck and over the back of the head. Most sufferers find that heat on the back of the neck will ease the headache.

Neck movements often aggravate the problem – particularly if the neck is moved towards extension. Looking up to the ceiling is often very painful.

What should you do if you develop headaches after an injury?

If you are injured in a crash and begin to experience regular headaches afterward, seek medical care. It could be something serious like a blood clot in the brain, an injury to the neck, or even a concussion. It’s better to have it checked out completely – better safe than sorry!

In addition to a headache, some other signs of a serious concussion include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea 
  • Neck pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light

What causes whiplash headache?

Early after a whiplash injury, headaches may be caused by overstretching of the ligaments and tendons of the upper neck. This is called a sprain or a strain. Typically, symptoms from sprain or strain will resolve within 6 to 8 weeks.  When symptoms continue, it is a sign of a more severe injury.  

Approximately 80% of the time, chronic headaches following a whiplash are due to an upper joint injury in your neck. These joints are called the facet joints.  The other 20% of the time, a chronic headache may be due to a disc injury in the upper neck.

How is whiplash headache treated?


The first step in treatment of whiplash headache is therapy and neck exercises.  While a sprain or strain may resolve on its own, therapy and exercises will speed up your improvement.  

Chiropractic treatment at Keith Clinic can help to relieve the neck pain associated with whiplash, by realigning your spine and improving the movement in your neck. Treating a whiplash injury promptly with Keith Clinic can help to prevent any long-term problems from developing, such as chronic pain, arthritis, migraines and headaches.


At Keith Clinic Estramonte Chiropractic, we strive to develop individualized treatment plans to help our patients on their road to recovery, whether it’s something minor or injury from an automobile accident. You can make an appointment online at or by calling 704-392-3000.