Dizziness and unsteadiness following whiplash injury: characteristic features and relationship with cervical joint position error

J Rehabil Med. 2003 Jan;35(1):36-43. doi: 10.1080/16501970306109.


Dizziness and/or unsteadiness are common symptoms of chronic whiplash-associated disorders. This study aimed to report the characteristics of these symptoms and determine whether there was any relationship to cervical joint position error. Joint position error, the accuracy to return to the natural head posture following extension and rotation, was measured in 102 subjects with persistent whiplash-associated disorder and 44 control subjects. Whiplash subjects completed a neck pain index and answered questions about the characteristics of dizziness. The results indicated that subjects with whiplash-associated disorders had significantly greater joint position errors than control subjects. Within the whiplash group, those with dizziness had greater joint position errors than those without dizziness following rotation (rotation (R) 4.5 degrees (0.3) vs 2.9 degrees (0.4); rotation (L) 3.9 degrees (0.3) vs 2.8 degrees (0.4) respectively) and a higher neck pain index (55.3% (1.4) vs 43.1% (1.8)). Characteristics of the dizziness were consistent for those reported for a cervical cause but no characteristics could predict the magnitude of joint position error. Cervical mechanoreceptor dysfunction is a likely cause of dizziness in whiplash-associated disorder.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Dizziness / etiology*
  • Female
  • Head / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joints / injuries
  • Joints / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / therapy