Why You Suffer Headaches After a Car Accident and What to Do Next
Your car accident came out of nowhere. You were shaken up, but you gave your statement, went to the doctor, and seemed to be more or less fine.
Now, though, you’re not so sure—not since you started getting headaches.
Unfortunately, not all car accident injuries are evident right away. Here are a few reasons why you might be getting headaches after a car accident and what you need to do next to ensure you get the treatment and compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Headaches After a Car Accident
The human body is both surprisingly resilient and deeply fragile—especially the brain. Headaches are just one way of your body letting you know that something is wrong.
Unfortunately, the body isn’t good at sending specific signals, so your headaches may result from any number of causes. You may even get headaches even if you don’t sustain a head injury during the accident.
For many people, headaches result from neck injury, a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, or a combination of the three.
Remember when we said you can get headaches without a head injury? That’s usually the result of a neck injury from your head being thrown in one direction or another so quickly that it causes some damage to the structure of the neck that supports the head.
This type of neck injury caused by a rapid, forceful back-and-forth motion of the neck, is often referred to as a sprain or strain to the neck structures of which there several:.
- The seven vertebrae in your neck
- The discs cushioning your vertebrae
- The nerves in your neck
Symptoms can set in anywhere from a few hours to a few days after the accident. Common symptoms include:
- Paresthesia (numbness, tingling, or the sensation of pins and needles)
- Neck stiffness
- Reduced range of motion in your neck
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or other tone in the ears without an external source)
- Sleep disturbances
Headaches resulting from neck injury often start at the base of the skull. Most people also have pain on one side of the head, though some people get pain all over the skull and some people experience headaches in the forehead or behind the eyes.
Another common cause of headaches is a concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually caused by a sudden blow to the head or without actual trauma to the head but with the whipping back and forth of the head.
Concussions happen when your brain sustains microscopic damage to the blood vessels and nerves. This means that you may get a concussion even if you can’t see the effects of your head injury in an obvious way, like an open wound or bruising.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to have a concussion and not realize it. Some concussions cause you to lose consciousness, but most do not. You may not show any symptoms of a concussion for hours or even days afterward.
Other than a headache, common symptoms of a concussion include:
- Confusion or feeling as though you’re in a fog
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Slurred speech
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Slowed response to external stimuli
- Balance problems
- Delay in answering questions
Headaches that last longer than six weeks may indicate post-concussion syndrome, a medical condition tied to severe head and brain injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Unfortunately, while concussions are the most common form of TBI, they are not the only form of TBI that may be responsible for your headaches.
For example, there are also contusions, or bruising of the brain caused by the brain slamming into the inside of the skull during a collision. But there are also intracranial hematomas, which involve ruptured blood vessels bleeding into the brain.
On the other hand, your headaches may have nothing to do with the nerves or muscles but with the nerve fibers, as in the case of diffuse axonal injuries. Axons are nerve fibers which communicate messages to and from the brain, and in a car crash, they may stretch and rip. Since the nerves don’t know what message to communicate, they communicate pain.
What to Do Next
Headaches after a car accident can be so much more than headaches. They can be symptomatic of a serious injury, and some people suffer the effects of these injuries for years.
Unfortunately, if your headaches don’t resolve quickly or are not easily explained, your insurance company may use this as a reason to deny compensation. Worse, they may try to argue that your injury isn’t that bad if your symptoms didn’t show up immediately and you didn’t seek treatment right after the accident.
The auto accident attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys know that this is unacceptable. When you have suffered a traumatic accident and are trying to recover, you need support. More than that, you need someone who cares. That’s why our attorneys take pride in treating every client with the care and dedication they would give to their own families.
If you were recently in a car accident and are now suffering the effects, our team can help you. Schedule your free consultation today to find out more about your options.