Cervical Root Compression After Whiplash

This report discusses six patients with third cervical root and ganglion compression after whiplash accidents. C3 compression was diagnosed by location of symptoms (i.e., "from the neck, up behind and over the ear..."); headaches described as "sharp," "shooting," "jolts," and "jabs;" numbness in the C3 dermatome; and worsening of symptoms upon cervical motion. Radiological and myelographic studies were also performed.

Surgical decompression of C3 was performed in all six patients. Symptoms cleared within 1 to 6 weeks after surgery, indicating that C3 compression was indeed involved in the symptoms.

Surgical treatment, however, was not very effective and had a high complication rate. At least half of the patients required further surgical intervention for recurring symptoms, and the author concludes by stating, "As with other compressive radiculopathies, all efforts should be made to treat patients conservatively."

Poletti CE. Third cervical nerve root and ganglion compression: clinical syndrome, surgical anatomy, and pathological findings. Neurosurgery 1996;39(5):941-949.