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Examination of the Diagnostic Validity
of "Headache Attributed to Whiplash Injury":
A Controlled, Prospective Study
Schrader H, Stovner LJ, et al.
Posted: April 2007  
Eur J Neurol. 2006;1226-1232

Acute and chronic headache attributed to whiplash injury are new diagnostic entities in the International Classification of Headache Disorders, second edition. A main objective of the present study was to assess the validity of these nosologic entities by studying the headache pattern in an inception cohort of 210 rear-end car collision victims and in 210 matched controls. A standard self-report questionnaire was sent to the drivers between 2 and 7 days after the collision, and their passengers were recruited as well. Headache and neck pain were evaluated within 7 days of the collision, at 2 months and 1 year after the collision. Of the 75 collision victims who developed headache within the first 7 days of the collision, 37 had a clinical picture in accordance with the criteria for acute whiplash headache and 38 did not. Preexisting headache was a strong prognostic factor for both acute and chronic pain. A likely interpretation of the data is that acute headaches after rear-end car collisions mainly represent episodes of a primary headache precipitated by the stress of the situation. We conclude that the nosologic validity of both acute and chronic whiplash headache is poor as the headaches, in accordance with the criteria lack distinguishing clinical features and have the same prognosis compared with headaches in a control group.