The 27-year-old was a part of the Chiefs side that won the LV= Cup earlier this month, but having sought medical advice, he has been advised to bring an end to his playing career.
"Obviously I'm incredibly disappointed to be told to stop playing. I'm 27, I'm playing in the top division and with a great club, so it's a huge kick to the stomach and not something I was really planning for," he told the club's official website.
"That said, I'm proud of my career and what I've achieved and I'm fortunate and honoured to be part of the Chiefs for the past four seasons. There is never a nice or an easy time to retire from the game, but to do so early is certainly tough to take."
Whitehead joined the Chiefs from London Wasps back in the summer of 2010.