It is not uncommon to experience a headache after an automobile accident. In fact, headaches are among the most common complaint of individuals following an accident. After being involved in a car accident, individuals who suffer from headaches may find that their symptoms worsen. Even if a person does not hit their head in the course of the accident, they may still experience unwanted symptoms. These symptoms can arise a few hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. A headache after an automobile accident can be caused by a number of factors, and it is important to seek medical attention right away.
There are several ways that an individual can be injured as a result of an auto accident and subsequently develop headaches. The most common reason for a person to experience headaches after an accident is due to whiplash. Whiplash happens as a result of a sudden stop, causing the neck and head to unnaturally flex and extend. The jerking action associated with whiplash can strain soft tissue. Often, individuals who suffer a whiplash injury will have sprained or strained their neck muscles and ligaments. Whiplash can also take a toll on the vertebrae in an individual’s neck, nerves, and the discs that cushion the vertebrae. Whiplash headaches generally occur near the base of the skull and are often accompanied by neck pain, stiffness, dizziness or fatigue. The severity of the whiplash will most likely depend on the impact and force exerted during the accident.
Often, muscle-contraction or spasm headaches will occur after an automobile accident. These can be caused by an injury to the muscles in the neck, head, or upper back. A sudden jolt of the neck or head can lead to an injury or tear to the soft tissue, resulting in strain or spasm of the muscles. In addition to a headache, this muscle strain can result in reduced range of motion, tenderness, redness or swelling.
Similarly, post-traumatic headaches may arise after an automobile accident. This type of headache is caused by trauma to the head and neck during an accident and may originate from the neck, from the brain as a result of a concussion, from muscle contractions or pinching of the upper cervical near the neck area, or from nerves near the base of the skull. A post-traumatic headache will usually not appear for days or weeks following an accident.
Migraine headaches associated with a concussion can also arise after an automobile accident. A concussion is a brain injury typically caused by a sudden blow to the head or a sudden violent jolt. These headaches can be accompanied by nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and sensitivity to certain smells or movements. Concussions can also lead to memory loss, confusion, anxiety, depression, balance problems, ringing in the ears, and irritability.
Fractures in the skull or neck bones can also lead to painful headaches after an automobile accident. Fracture headaches are usually in the back of the head and neck, or at the site of the injury. Symptoms of a fracture headache include nausea, confusion, slurred speech, or a stiff neck. A brain injury may become a risk with a fractured bone. However, someone who sustains a traumatic brain injury as a result of a blow to the head during a car accident may not have any fracture or penetration of the skull. Often, it is the significant force associated with an automobile accident that can damage internal cells and tissues in the brain.
Following an automobile accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. The sooner that you seek a medical professional, the greater chance that you will receive an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate follow-up treatment. West Coast Wellness can help you overcome a headache related to an automobile accident. Dr. Daniel Barr is an auto injury chiropractor whose career is dedicated to eliminating pain for his patients. To learn more about how West Coast Wellness can help you, call us at (941) 429-0070 to have your questions answered.