Vertebral Artery Dissection

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2020 Jun;50(6):344. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2020.8858.


A 40-year-old woman was referred to physical therapy with complaints of headaches. Examination raised suspicion of a "thunderclap headache," a condition characterized by sudden, intense headaches correlated with bleeding in and around the brain. The patient was referred to a neurologist, who ordered magnetic resonance angiography of the head and neck, which identified a partial dissection of the right vertebral artery. A subsequent computed tomography angiogram confirmed the dissection. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2020;50(6):344. doi:10.2519/jospt.2020.8858.

Keywords: computed tomography; headache; magnetic resonance imaging; neck.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use
  • Back Muscles / physiology
  • Clopidogrel / therapeutic use
  • Computed Tomography Angiography
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Resistance Training
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vertebral Artery Dissection / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Clopidogrel
  • Aspirin