Chronic Post-Traumatic Neck and Head Pain


  • Seymour Solomon MD

  • From the Montefiore Medical Center, Neurology, Bronx, NY.

Address all correspondence to Seymour Solomon, MD, Headache Unit, Montfiore Medical Center, 111 East 210th Street, Bronx, NY 10467.


Objective.—This is a review of current concepts of chronic post-traumatic neck and head pain. In this article, I will emphasize the physiological and sociological aspects of these disorders.

Background.—The pathophysiology of chronic post-traumatic neck and head pain has not been well understood. Some have emphasized the organic factors and others the psychogenic aspects of these conditions. Only in recent years have this dichotomy been integrated with sociocultural concepts.

Methods.—The history of chronic post-traumatic head and neck pain is reviewed. Paradoxes are discussed, ie, the great differences in prevalence around the world, the inconsistent relationship of symptoms to degree of trauma, the curious phenomena of structural disease without symptoms, and symptoms without structural disease. The organic and pathophysiologic factors are reviewed, then those factors that modulate pain in these conditions are discussed.

Conclusion.—Chronic post-traumatic neck and head pain is rarely either organic or psychogenic. Rather physiological, social, and cultural factors play major roles in modulating pain and either perpetuate or ameliorate these chronic pain conditions.