Headaches are common after a car accident. These headaches range from dull headaches that are in minor annoyance to stabbing pain that is debilitating. Sometimes these headaches last only a few hours while others go on for years and can be permanent.
There are many causes for headaches suffered in car accidents. The simple explanation is that our bodies were not designed to withstand rapid deceleration or blows to the head that can happen in a car accident. These deceleration injuries can occur when you are hit in the head with an airbag, or hit your head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or sidewall of the car. Headaches can also be caused by whiplash, which is the sudden back-and-forth motion of the neck and head caused by rapid deceleration, even when there has been no blow to the head.
Causes of Car Accident Headaches
Headaches are a common side effect of concussions. These are called post-concussion headaches. Usually these headaches resolve in a matter of hours or days after the accident. However, some people have headaches that persist lasting for months or years. These unfortunate few are often called the “miserable minority.” Generally, if your headaches do not resolved in 6 months after the car accident, the headaches are likely to be a long-term or even permanent problem.
Headaches can also result from injuries to the neck and cervical spine. These headaches are often caused tension headaches because tension and spasm of the muscles in the neck, back and shoulders can contribute to the headaches.
Types of Car Accident Headaches:
Pain in the Back of the Head/Neck/Shoulder
This pain often starts at the base of the head/neck area and may spread over the top of the head into the forehead. This type of headache is often caused by muscle tension and nerve damage caused by car accidents. When a car suddenly stops, your head is thrown forward. The only thing holding your head on top of your body are muscles, bones and cartilage in your neck. When your head is thrown forward, the muscles and tendons in the neck can torn or stretched, and the discs between the vertebrae can be squished which causes compression of nerves. These injuries can cause severe headaches often called tension headaches myofacial pain disorder.
Pain from these type of headaches tends to be in the front of the head and can include a throbbing the temples are for head. These headaches are sometimes described as "pounding" pain. They may include sensitivity to light and loss of peripheral vision. Emotional stress or intense concentration can trigger these headaches will make them worse.
Migraine type headaches are thought to be caused in part by changes in the diameter of the arteries and veins in the brain. Trauma to these arteries and veins in a car accident can cause these migraine type headaches.
The “Stabbing” Headache
The stabbing headache often involves a sudden, sharp pain of great intensity. This is the type of pain that is of such an great intensity can bring people to their needs. The pain may last from a few seconds to a minute or two. It is sometimes difficult to get treatment for these type of headaches because they are of such short duration. However, there are some drugs such as anti-seizure medication that can be effective.
The Cause of Headaches Don’t Always Show up on Scans
One very frustrating fact for those that suffer headaches after a car accident is that the cause of the headaches often do not show up on brain scans or MRIs. Insurance adjusters often question your claim arguing that the only evidence of the headaches is your "subjective” reporting of pain. It can be devastating to be suffering severe pain and have insurance adjusters and even some doctors questioning your injury.
If you have a headache after a car accident, you should seek immediate medical attention.
We help people who have headaches from injuries in car accidents. We offer a free consultation so that you may discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney. Contact us online or call our St. Louis office at 314-862-6865 to schedule your free initial consultation. When you meet with us, ask about:
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