Headaches After a Car Accident
After a car accident, numerous physical ailments can ensue. Some, like broken bones and internal bleeding, will be hard to miss. Others, however, might possibly have an alternate cause.
Post-accident headaches fall into this category. Some may not appear for several hours or days after a crash, and it can be easy to confuse their origin, especially if you happen to know for a fact that you never hit your head or lost consciousness.
Don’t be fooled. The accident itself could very well be the culprit behind your throbbing head. Here’s how:
The Car Crash and Subsequent Headaches
While some post-crash headaches clearly arise from a blow to the head, others can seem to have no obvious origin. How bad they get will vary along with the severity of the impact or force that caused it. The commonest types of post-accident headache include:
– The post-concussive headache. A concussion is a type of brain injury that results when a person’s head is subject to a blow or violent jarring that may or may not cause a temporary loss of consciousness. The post-concussive headache that often follows may not appear immediately. When it does, it can vary in severity and may exist as a feeling of pressure. Concussion sufferers may also complain of memory problems, trouble in concentrating and difficulty with coordination and balance.
– The post-traumatic headache. This type of headache will often resemble a migraine and can result from a neck or cervical injury, muscle spasms, pinched nerves or concussion. It will usually develop within the week following the accident. Some of these headaches will pulsate, and sufferers may experience a sensitivity to light or sound. Dizziness, nervousness, insomnia, memory problems and inability to concentrate may also occur.
– The whiplash headache. Whiplash, also known as cervical acceleration-deceleration syndrome, results when a sudden force jolts the head violently backward, then forward, stressing the cervical spine, injuring the soft tissue of the neck and often causing concussion. Whiplash injury will occur most often to people in cars that are hit from behind. Pain in the neck and shoulders may take hours to surface, and associated headaches at the base of the skull can take days or weeks to appear.
– The spasmodic or muscle-contraction headache. Car accidents will often cause tears in the soft tissue and muscles of the upper back, head or neck, and these are the most common cause of headache following a crash. Usually mild to moderate in severity, these headaches normally affect both sides of the head. They are non-pulsating, involve no sensitivity to light or sound and are often misdiagnosed as being tension-related.
– The fracture headache. After a car accident, a serious headache may indicate a possible fracture to the neck or skull. The pain will appear close to the site of the fracture or at the back of the head. These headaches will vary in severity depending on the extent of damage, and in cases like this, it is vital to rule out the possibility of brain damage. People suffering from fracture headaches will often feel nauseous and confused. They may slur their speech and complain of stiff neck. Symptoms like these will demand immediate medical attention.
– The pinched-nerve headache. The forces sustained in any car accident can compress the spine or herniate the disks to the extent of pinching or irritating the greater occipital or upper cervical nerves. In addition to causing a headache, this type of injury can lead to sensations of tingling, burning and numbness that can spread from the neck to the base of the skull and the back of the head. The area will often be sensitive and painful when touched.
When you’ve been involved in an automobile accident, it can take up to a week for headaches and associated injuries to appear. It is therefore vital to see a doctor as soon as possible after a crash, even if you feel well at the time. A medical professional will determine the existence of any physical damage, and if you should need to make an injury claim of any sort in the future, his report will serve as critical documentation.
If you have any questions about your rights following a car accident, the Powerhouse Injury Attorneys can help. Call today for a free consultation: 602-265-5555