Posted by: Angie | 2009/02/17

Whiplash and migraines

Dear Doc
I experience migraines on a regular basis. I was in a motor car accident a few years ago, and find that my neck sometimes feels stiff and cricks. I then feel a faint pain in the back of my head, neck and even into my one shoulder. I start feeling nauseous and before long I develop a nasty headache into my eyes with blurred vision, etc. I went to a specialist a while back, but he could not find anything wrong with my neck. Any suggestions? I had an episode over the weekend, took a migraine -|- tail which helped a little. My GP gave me a Voltaren injection but to be honest I still feel sick.


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Our expert says:
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Dear Angie,

Neck pain and stiffness is frequently associated with migraine and tension headache, even if there is nothing unusual on neck x-rays. The x-rays only show changes in the bone, and don’t indicate the amount of muscle tension, which can certainly be precipitated by an accident and whiplash. Headaches are caused by a number of things however, so to get to the root of the problem, you need what is called a “multidisciplinary assessment”. There are so many different structures in the head and neck, all of which can be involved in the headache process, that no single specialist can have all the knowledge necessary to make a comprehensive assessment and diagnosis. For instance, a neurologist will examine the brain and nervous system, a physiotherapist will look at the muscles, a dentist will examine the teeth etc. For this reason, the “multidisciplinary assessment” combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation, into a single more comprehensive body of knowledge. This enables the different members of the team to provide a co-ordinated treatment plan, so that all the contributing factors are addressed.

This assessment must include a thorough examination of the head and neck muscles to determine the presence of abnormal tension, and of the external carotid vasculature to determine whether there is an arterial element to the pain.

Headache sufferers often have a poor Quality of Life due to the constant pain and associated symptoms. For a free assessment of how your headaches are affecting your Quality of Life, click on

This information has been supplied and checked by the multidisciplinary team of specialists at The Headache Clinic, in association with The International Headache Society and the South African Institute of Headache and Migraine Science. For consultation with these specialists, call The Headache Clinic (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) on 0861 678 911.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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