Suffer from headaches after car accident? Here is a complete guide on how to deal with this common auto accident injury and how to seek specialized help.
Sometimes, a minor inconvenience or a small act of carelessness from our end can ruin an otherwise happy, normal day and provoke motor vehicle accidents, which make us land at the most dreadful of all places – a HOSPITAL!
Car accidents seem to occur due to an unfortunate stroke of bad luck and end up giving a trauma of a lifetime – both to your car and sometimes to you as well, in the form of injuries that vary from simple scratches and scrapes to serious ones, such as traumatic brain injury, broken bones etc. that can even end up making one disabled for life.
Be it a minor or major concussion, a fractured injury, or a serious laceration, you should be concerned when such a situation arises and make it your priority to go to a hospital at your earliest to get all danger signs and hidden injuries excluded for the better. After all, who likes living with injuries that could end up becoming chronic or even life-threatening in the long run?
This is why we recommend out patients to first seek emergency medical help, in order to rule out any life-threatening car accident injuries, and then search for an experienced car accident doctor, to further heal and document their medical case.
While our New York accident injury doctors help treat a wide range of injuries and help with physical rehabilitation, in this guide we’ll focus solely on the headache after car accident.
Common Types of Headaches After Car Accidents
Of course, your head, being the most vulnerable part of your body that is exposed and also free to move around at the time of the motor vehicle collision, usually ends up suffering the most this way.
There are several ways of getting your head injury during a car accident, all the while staying inside the car. Let us see what some of the common presentations of these injuries are and how they occur during car accidents:
Of course, concussion is one of the most common types of head injuries that follows a car accident. In this type of injury, due to an impact to your head, the brain inside strikes the skull and gets impacted due to the sudden pressure.
This ends up making you feel confused, lightheaded, nauseous and gives you a headache that could last from a few hours to a few days. This type of headache is also referred to as post-concussive syndrome or post-concussive headache.
Although it is usually not serious and a self-contained injury, it still requires a doctor to check it thoroughly. You will be asked to take a break from strenuous activities and avoid driving or playing sports for some time until you heal.
Somewhat appearing like a migraine, a post-traumatic headache occurs when the muscles of your head get all tensed up during the impact of an injury. This constricts the blood vessels that were supplying those muscles, and so, a reduced blood supply causes your head to ache.
Although it usually presents late, as in a few days following your initial injury, it can still alter your activities and can even end up worsening in its intensity or making you feel nauseous.
This also affects your mood and can make you feel depressed because of the intense headaches.
During or immediately after a car accident, when the car brakes are applied or the car is forced to come to a stop, your head jolts forward and backward suddenly. This sudden movement is termed a ‘whiplash injury’ and it could have serious consequences.
A whiplash headache is one of such consequences that follow a whiplash injury. This pain begins at the point where your neck meets your head. The reason for this is the overstretching of the tendon and ligaments of this point in the neck, which occur due to the extensive movement of the neck during the injury.
From this point forth, the pain may radiate to either the back of your head, the top of it, towards the front of your head and even the temples.
A whiplash headache may also cause pain during neck movements and so it is obvious that your daily life activities are greatly affected because of it. Whiplash headaches also take a bit longer to heal, and usually resolve by the end of 6-8 weeks.
These are already serious types of injuries. It is obvious that there would be evident damage to the skull bone, either partly or massively.
Sometimes, the fractured skull bone can also act as an entry point for infectious microorganisms, which when creep inside the cavity of the head, can cause infections.
If not for these infections that end up causing painful headaches, the fractured head itself can be a source of great misery to the person, causing headaches and tenderness that need to be emergently treated.
It’s mandatory that you seek urgent medical care, in order to heal fractures and make sure you don’t develop life threatening infections.
This is why we always recommend our patients to first seek ER support and then, within 48 hours since the car accident, to come to our auto accident clinic and let us deal with the healing process and documentation.
Muscle Spasm Headaches (Muscle Strain Headaches)
Now, these headaches are usual, during muscle contractions that happen while involved in a car accident. They occur due to the tensing up of muscles during an injury and could be both due to voluntary or involuntary causes.
Muscle spasm headaches usually heal when the original initiating injury – the stretching or tearing of the ligament or muscle is healed. Other than that, they just cause an immense amount of pain and discomfort to the affected person.
Pinched Nerve Headaches
Another type of headache after a car accident is called pinched nerve headache and is exactly that: severe pain cause by the pinching of the nerves.
During the vehicle accident, herniated discs or the compression of the spine might also cause the compression of the spinal nerves. This will cause an irritation of the greater occipital nerve (which you find at the base of your skull).
Pinched nerve headaches are severe and also cause other symptoms like numbness, tingling at the back of the head, tenderness, a sense of burning etc.
Any of these types of headaches should be properly diagnosed and treated. There is no reason to suffer through persistent headaches, when help is just a call away.
How Long After A Car Accident Do Symptoms Of Headaches Appear?
Any injury following a car accident could either be immediate or take its time to manifest. In the case of headaches, they may develop a few hours, days, or even weeks later than the injury.
In the meantime, it is important to keep an eye on the signs and symptoms and any changes that point towards your condition worsening – that is when you know you need to rush to the emergency right away!
How Long Do Headaches Last After Car Accidents?
How long headaches last after a car accident depends entirely on the cause and extent of your headache – the more serious your head injury is, the longer it would take for your headache to resolve. Otherwise, in cases of concussions or post-traumatic headache, it takes about a few days to two weeks for the headache to completely resolve.
If I Have A Constant Headache After A Car Accident – What To Do About It?
In case your headache does not subside on its own or even after taking medications, then it is obvious that there is something underlying the condition that needs to be evaluated urgently.
Therefore, it is best to get your persistent headache evaluated by a physician in the Emergency Department. The physician will probably order an appropriate CT scan to see if you have any hidden injuries or fractures, or maybe even signs of internal bleeding that have been causing the headache.
Should I Go To An ER For Headache After A Car Accident?
Always, after getting involved in a car accident, have experienced emergency doctors evaluate your case. While you might feel “OK” following a car crash, your symptoms will worsen in 1-2 days after your collision. Make sure your doctors rule out any life-threatening injuries before and properly diagnose you.
It is best if you visit an ER right after experiencing a headache that is linked to your car accident, for it will help you rule out the probable causes behind your headache.
Just as you noticed from our detailed guide, there are many types of headaches following a car accident and some are very serious.
Our car accident doctors will further diagnose all your injuries and then set up your treatment plan: physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, even pain medication if needed.
How To Treat Headache From Car Accident?
There are several ways of treating a headache after a car accident. You can use both over-the-counter medicine as well as prescribed pain medication. But first have your headache properly diagnosed and then treated.
However, it is best if your doctor prescribes the best treatment for you to treat your headache. In some cases, an intervention from a chiropractor can also be required to realign your spine and make the pain go away as a result of the alignment of the spine.
All in all, head injuries due to car accidents can both be easy to deal with and complicated due to their nature. It all depends on the time taken to reach the hospital and get the injury or headache evaluated as soon as possible to escape the hazards of it debilitating or disabling you from performing normally in life.