Cranial Cervical Syndrome (CCS)/Whiplash Associated Disorder (WAD)

 By Shawn Dalton-Bethea, M.D. of Greensboro Rejuvenation 

     I have a greater appreciation and understanding of Cranial Cervical Syndrome following a life changing motor vehicle accident in Greensboro, NC. In 2017, the auto insurance industry estimated, based on a large database of collision claims, that an “average ability” driver would be involved in a car collision about once every 17.9 years or three to four times in a lifetime.

     The symptoms that result from a whiplash injury to the neck (cervical spine) are complex. These symptoms are transient. They come and go. Symptoms are quite variable, and can be intractable, in some patients, for years. Medical providers often do not understand the nature of the problem. Patients are frequently treated with high dose narcotics. Many are told that they are malingerers – faking their symptoms- or that they are psychologically unbalanced and need psychiatric care. The most debilitating symptom, that develops after a whiplash injury, is intractable headaches. Other associated complaints include confusion, concentration, focus, and word finding difficulties, severe neck pain, pain between the shoulder blades, clumsy hands (fine motor issues), balance problems, dizziness, vertigo, visual changes, numbness, short term memory loss, etc. Some have lost jobs, dropped out of school, etc. because of debilitating symptoms. 

     Traditional x-rays, CT scans, and standard MRIs are NOT performed with motion. They are static (flat) studies, which can miss underlying causes of CCS. Two additional studies picked up the severe instability in my uppermost cervical spine (C1 C2 level) and brainstem (base of brain). First was DMX (Digital Motion X-rays), which video images the cervical spine IN MOTION. DMX assesses abnormal side to side slide (overhang) of C1 on the C2 vertebrae. SEVERE INJURY starts at 3.5mm!

      The second study is an upright cervical MRI scan, which also facilitates the analysis of the cervical spine IN MOTION. It gives a clearer understanding of how the brainstem (base of the brain) and the vertebral arteries are affected because of the instability at the C1 C2 level. When the ligaments, which connect C1 and C2, to the occiput (base of the skull), are severely stretched, the brainstem can descend abnormally low, and contribute to severe stenosis (precipitate a small opening at the top of the spine and entrance into the cranium). Inflammatory fluid can develop behind the C1 vertebrae because of abnormal movement. These changes have severe short- and long-term effects.

      If you have been involved in a car accident, and are still experiencing some of the mentioned symptoms, there is still HOPE for you as there is for me! 

Shawn Dalton-Bethea, MD, ABPM

 1001 North Elm Street Greensboro, NC 27401 336-501-3796 Fax: 336-333-5477 email:

 The Center For Integrative Health & Wellness