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5.3 Acute headache attributed to whiplash1


Headache of less than 3 months’ duration caused by whiplash.

Diagnostic criteria:
  1. Any headache fulfilling criteria C and D
  2. Whiplash1, associated at the time with neck pain and/or headache, has occurred
  3. Headache has developed within 7 days after the whiplash
  4. Either of the following:
    1. headache has resolved within 3 months after its onset
    2. headache has not yet resolved but 3 months have not yet passed since its onset
  5. Not better accounted for by another ICHD-3 diagnosis.

Whiplash is defined as sudden and inadequately restrained acceleration/deceleration movements of the head with flexion/extension of the neck. Whiplash may occur after either high or low impact forces.


Whiplash most commonly occurs in the context of a motor vehicle accident.

5.3 Acute headache attributed to whiplash may occur as an isolated symptom or with a constellation of other symptoms that relate to the neck, as well as somatic extracervical, neurosensory, behavioural, cognitive and/or mood symptoms. Whiplash itself may be classified according to the severity of the clinical presentation, using a scheme such as that presented by the Quebec Task Force on Whiplash-Associated Disorders.