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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Case Report: Vertebral Artery Dissection After Use of Handheld Massage Gun


Introduction: Arterial dissection is well known as a potential cause of stroke in young patients. Vertebral artery dissection occurs most commonly in the setting of minor trauma but has been seen in cases of cervical manipulation. With advances in at-home therapeutic modalities for neck pain came the advent of handheld massage guns. These massage guns have gained considerable popularity in recent years, but their safety for use in the cervical region has not been well studied.

Case report: In this case report, we discuss a 27-year-old female who presented with headache, neck pain, and dizziness who was found to have vertebral artery dissection after repetitive use of a handheld massage gun.

Conclusion: In young patients presenting with headache, neck pain, and vague neurologic symptoms it is important to consider vertebral artery dissection as a cause of symptoms as it can lead to serious morbidity. When considering an inciting event such as minor trauma, it may also be important to assess whether there has been use of a handheld massage gun. Although causality is difficult to establish, with the increase in use of handheld massage guns we may find more frequent association between their use and vertebral artery dissection.

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