Simple headache can mask a serious condition like Whiplash

Posted in Head Pain Disorders on Aug 10, 2020

Cause vs Effect in Headaches

Is there ever such a thing as a “normal headache?”

It is common for people to diminish the importance of headaches. They attribute them to stress or tension, take a few tablets, and then carry on with their daily activities because “they don’t have time for a headache.”

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But what if the headache was an early warning - a precursor - to something else happening beneath the surface.

Do think about it for a moment: everything that happens in your body happens for a reason. Granted, we don’t always know what the reason is, but there is always an underlying cause.

Things like daily stress or work activities are usually the things that trigger or aggravate the underlying issue, but they are often not the true cause.

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So when it comes to headaches, have you ever considered what the underlying cause is? 

If you are the type of person who believes it is more important to address the root cause and not just to treat the symptoms, then we’re going to explore how headaches may be related to an undiagnosed neck or whiplash injury … one that you may never have even realised you experienced!


There is ALWAYS a Cause for Headaches

For many people who suffer a lifetime of headaches, they have a cabinet filled with brain and neck scans: x-rays, CTs, MRIs, etc.

For many of these people, they are told that “There’s nothing wrong,” or “Everything is normal.” However, things are not normal if they continue to suffer headaches.

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Such examples are unfortunately all too common. Many people are told that the problem must be hormonal or chemical or genetic and that aside from tablets and avoiding triggers that there isn’t too much that can be done.

But let me explain clearly when it comes to headaches: there is a big difference between “pathology” and “normal” or healthy.

X-rays, MRIs, and blood test reports are studied by pathologists, who are looking for severe signs of pathology: broken bones, infections, cancers, metabolic diseases, etc.

The best example I use is of obesity where you may be 20Kg heavier than your normal weight. However, if you are “only” 10Kg too heavy, you aren’t considered truly obese, and so your results come back as saying “normal” … but even 10Kg too heavy is still not normal, and you know it!

So just because you don’t have broken bones or brain tumors does not actually mean that the “normal report” is actually normal or healthy.


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Understanding Whiplash and Headaches

Whiplash is any sudden jerking injury to the neck where your head snaps one way and then the other.

In many cases, these injuries do NOT always cause immediate pain.

Furthermore, whiplash injuries also do NOT have to happen in a car. 

I want to run through a common list of activities where whiplash injuries are actually common, some that you may have considered before, and others that you may never have realised:


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  • Sports Injuries
    • Contact Sports like rugby, AFL, football, soccer, and hockey are common
    • Non-contact sports like swimming, surfing, skiing, skating, cycling and gymnastics, all which have the potential to fall
    • Horse Riding also because of the potential to fall off the horse
  • Motorbike Riding (for the same reason, but usually at more speed and higher in the air)
  • Roller Coasters
  • Rock or metal concerts (head-banging)
  • Falling on your tailbone (causes a whip effect from your tailbone that ripples all the way up to your neck)
  • Tripping on the kerb, rock or root on the ground (causes your head to reflexively snap backward)
  • Bungee jumping
  • Sky diving  when the parachute opens


Does it mean that all these activities always cause whiplash injuries? Of course not! However, you can see the potential for neck or whiplash injury with any of these activities … and also how they can affect people at all ages of life!


How can Whiplash cause headaches?

On a neutral, normal upright x-ray, they curve of your neck is means to have a slight “C” shaped curve with the apex pointing forwards.

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With whiplash, this curve is straightened, reversed, or “S” shaped.

Some people may argue that “S” shaped neck curves are normal variations of anatomy. I disagree.

Again, it is changing the definition of “normal.” If your weight is meant to be 65Kg and you weigh 75Kg, just because you don’t weigh 100Kg does not mean that you are as normal or well as you are supposed to be!

The significance of the “S” curve in the neck does not involve the bones per se, but all of the soft tissues that are affected by the bones: muscles, ligaments, and nerves.

When your neck straightens, it is like pulling on a piece of string. The muscles tighten and get sore. The ligaments get stretched and feel sharp or painful. And if the nerves are tensioned, it can cause all kinds of other problems … namely headaches!

The nerves that exit the spinal cord in the upper part of your neck - namely the C1, C2, and C3 nerves - are the ones that are responsible for the sensation of the head. If these nerves are affected by mechanical problems in the neck (i.e., whiplash injuries), then they may well create problems such as headaches!

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Here’s the point that I hope you capture here: whiplash is a physical injury. What that means is that physical injuries require physical treatment in order to resolve. 

Therefore, you can use chemical treatments or meditation to help cope with the pain of headaches, but that will only be masking the symptoms.

To address the underlying cause requires a physical solution.


Why are Headaches a “Warning Signal” with Whiplash?

As we said at the beginning of this article, there is a big difference between cause and effect. 

Symptoms like headaches are effects. 

So if you take a condition like a whiplash and identify it as the potential cause, you may realise that whiplash may also cause other health problems

In other words, headaches may only be the tip of the iceberg. And if you depend solely on a pain-killer or anti-inflammatory strategy to reduce to the pain, the underlying cause may continue to grow until it causes other more potentially severe problems.

Consider the simple example of an avalanche. The problem is not what happens at the top of the mountain (headaches); it is what happens at the bottom!


  • Whiplash injuries have been associated with Meniere's Disease, a syndrome involving vertigo, dizziness tinnitus, and loss of hearing 10-20 years prior to the onset of the first attack.
  • Chronic neck injuries have been implicated with a subtype of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurodegenerative conditions
  • Additional pain conditions including Migraines, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Fibromyalgia, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome also seem to demonstrate an underlying connection with chronic neck injuries


So although whiplash itself is not a guarantee for any condition, the presence of a pre-existing injury can certainly set the stage and increase the chance for problems down the track.

So if you do experience headaches and if you are able to identify the underlying condition that is producing them - AND if you take the right steps to be able to address the underlying cause - you may also be able to improve a number of other conditions that you may never need to suffer!


Upper Cervical Care, Whiplash and Headaches

There are many potential treatment options when it comes to headaches and even whiplash injuries:


  • Chiropractic
  • Physiotherapy
  • Musculoskeletal Medicine, just to name a few.


Foremost, if anyone had it all figured out 100% of the time with 100% success, there would only be one form of healthcare, and everyone would be doing it. Until that time, we all do the best we can with the evidence and experience we bring to the table.

So, I want to specifically speak to you if you have already done everything you can think of for your headaches but still not experienced the outcome you’d expect.

If you’ve already been to the chiropractor, physiotherapist, massage therapist, GP, and specialist, but no one can really figure out what’s going on, then you may be the type of person whom we are able to help using a unique form of healthcare known as Blair Upper Cervical care.

Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that focuses on the relationship between the top bones in the neck - C1, C2, and C3 - and the nerve system. Unlike other forms of manual medicine, there is no manipulation (i.e., no neck twisting or cracking).

What makes the approach so the difference is the use of specialised diagnostic tests that help to identify the exact direction and degree of any injuries between the joints in your neck that could be causing your headaches.

You see, every human being is constructed differently on the outside and also on the inside. When we take these differences into account, we discover that many headache treatments that people have done over the years have been focusing on the right area but perhaps from the wrong angle based on the shape and characteristics of their own bones.

Therefore, Blair upper cervical care is a custom-tailored approach to healthcare using a specific analysis and correction designed specifically for you in order to maximize the potential for a favorable outcome so that your body can do what it is designed to do: heal itself naturally.


How can we help you with whiplash or headaches?

We hope that you have found this article both informative, but also valuable. We find that for many people who suffer chronic headaches that it just makes sense!

So if it has struck a chord with you also and if you have tried every form of healthcare you can think of for your headaches but have not seen a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor, then we would like to hear from you.

Our practice, Atlas Health, is the premier upper cervical healthcare center in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), we work with clients from across the SE Queensland area, from across the state and even across the country.

Our mission is to help people who have been searching for answers for their chronic health challenges so that they can experience the healing and long term changes so that they can enjoy the quality of life that they desire most. 

Our principal chiropractic doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Hannah, is an advanced certified practitioner with the Blair Chiropractic technique. He is an international lecturer, speaker, author, and recognised leader in the field of upper cervical chiropractic care.

We are happy to offer a complimentary 15-minute over the phone consultation with Dr. Hannah if you would like to discuss your particular condition and to ask any question so that you can decide if Blair upper cervical care may be right for you.

Simply click the Contact Us, or alternatively call us direct at 07 3188 9329.

We appreciate your trust in your healthcare, and we look forward to hearing from you and offering our assistance to the best of our ability.

Atlas Health Australia - “Hope, healing, and wellbeing from above-down, inside-out.”



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