Can Whiplash Cause Migraines?


Upper cervical chiropractors understand migraines more than anyone else. Migraines caused by trauma to the neck and head are more common than you might imagine. Episodes of migraines may happen even with just a mild neck or head injury. Moreover, the accident you experienced does not need to be recent to cause migraine attacks. Symptoms of migraines may occur despite the trauma occurring more than 15 years ago.

Here are some unpleasant events that can lead to neck or head trauma:

  • Whiplash caused by a vehicular accident
  • Tripping, slipping, sliding, and falling
  • Heading a soccer ball frequently during practice
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Football tackles
  • Physical altercations or abuse
  • Getting shaken – often, the injury sustained is similar to the shaken baby syndrome

Neck Injury-Related Migraine Symptoms

If you experience migraines following a blow to your neck or head, these symptoms may hit you:

  • Headache that becomes more intense when you cough, bend forward or move your head quickly
  • Double vision
  • Pounding, throbbing head pain
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo 
  • Neck pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Problems hearing
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Problems remembering
  • Muscle spasms in the head, neck, shoulders, and back
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • A shift in the senses of smell and taste
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Tired eyes
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Personality changes
  • Lack of range of motion in the neck
  • Worsening of pain with neck movement

Generally, migraines that are due to neck injury often occur quickly. However, there are also many cases where they appear after a few days following the neck injury or trauma. Furthermore, as said earlier, migraines and other health issues may take many years before it begins manifesting. It is often tricky with migraines to pinpoint the exact trauma that caused it all.

How Whiplash Can Cause Migraines

Whiplash happens when the neck experiences violent movement in a forceful, back-and-forth motion similar to cracking a whip. You may begin to feel better after about three months of the accident. A whiplash accident impacts the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) vertebrae and would most likely cause them to shift out of alignment. These two bones are different from the other vertebrae of the spine in the sense that they both have a vast range of mobility and flexibility. These bones are what support the head and enable it to move in various directions. 

However, these characteristics also place these bones at a higher risk of misaligning. Anything that causes the muscles of the neck to overextend or overstretch can cause misalignments to the atlas and axis vertebrae. It is the frequent reason for migraines to occur, whether immediately after the injury or many months or even years later. 

The Effects of an Upper Cervical Misalignment

When the atlas and axis move out of their positions, they place the brainstem under stress and pressure. The brainstem is the communication boulevard of the body, while the vertebrae protect the brainstem. Therefore, a misalignment of these bones will cause more harm than good. As a result, the brainstem malfunctions and improper signals reach the brain. 

Another critical issue that may occur due to misalignment is the blockage of the proper flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid in the body and brain. If not enough oxygen-rich blood reaches the brain, a migraine can happen. For these reasons, it is vital to get help from a professional who understands how the central nervous system and its parts function. To avoid complications following any kind of whiplash-type injury to the neck, consult with an upper cervical chiropractor. 

Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Whiplash and Migraines

How can chiropractors help patients dealing with whiplash and migraines? Upper cervical chiropractors detect even the tiniest of misalignments that exist in the atlas or axis vertebrae. Sad to say, it only takes a ¼ of a millimeter of misalignment to cause several serious health problems in the body. In addition to migraines, you are prone to experience fibromyalgia, vertigo, neck pain, back pain, scoliosis, chronic fatigue, and many other conditions due to whiplash or trauma to the neck or head. 

Upper cervical chiropractors do not rely on guessing but utilize scientific measurements and very detailed imaging to locate a misalignment. They use a modern method that is unique from the traditional chiropractic technique. Many patients dread neck cracking but fortunately, their approach does not involve any cracking of the bones in the neck to drive desired results. Instead, their manner of adjustment is very gentle and encourages the bones to return into place naturally. This procedure enables the bones to stay in place longer than using force to reposition them. By realigning the atlas and axis vertebra, the body can start healing from the damage incurred from whiplash. As a result, this can restore your body’s normal function and highest performance. In short, upper cervical care is essential to address the issue of whiplash and any neck or head trauma as quickly as possible to avoid migraines and any health issues later on in life.

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.