Even minor car accidents can cause persistent and long-lasting pain. This is especially true when it comes to the head, the neck, the back, and the shoulders. Jarring impact events and the resulting rocking motions often lead to muscle spasms, joint dysfunction, whiplash, and concussive injuries.
In fact, many people have mild to moderate headaches for days, weeks, or even months after a crash.
If you’ve been in a car accident and you’ve got a headache, keep reading. We’re going to go over the reason post-accident headaches happen, how to determine the cause of your pain, and more.
The Common Causes of Headaches After an Impact Event
There are multiple types of headaches that you may experience after a car accident. These include:
Migraine or Post-Concussive Headaches
Any violent jolt or forceful blow can result in a concussion. When severe, post-concussive migraines can lead to memory loss, anxiety, confusion, and other changes in general mood balance and behavior.
Muscle Spasm Headaches
Resulting from injured muscles and soft tissues at the back of the head, the neck, and the shoulders, muscle spasm headaches frequently occur when one or more muscles is having to overcompensate for injured areas.
If your head is forcefully connected with any surface or structure during a car accident, you may have a fractured neck bone or skull. This can lead to localized pain, slurred speech, nausea, and confusion. If left untreated, this is a problem that can also lead to brain injury.
Pinched Nerve Headaches
Spinal subluxation as the result of an impact event can lead to painful nerve compression. Headaches caused by nerve compression are characterized by sharp, shooting pains, and a burning, tingling sensation between the back of the neck and the back of the head.
Caused by a sudden jerking motion that leaves the head rocking back and forth for several seconds, whiplash places excessive strain on the soft tissues and the upper vertebrae. The resulting headaches can be accompanied by nausea, fatigue, and joint dysfunction at the neck.
Headaches resulting from forceful blows can be immediate. Many times, however, people develop head pain in the hours and days that follow car accidents.
How to Determine the Source of Your Headache
It’s always important to be seen by a doctor after being involved in a car accident. When visiting an emergency room, you’ll find that the primary goal of medical providers is to ensure that you’re in a stable condition. If you do not have any serious injuries such as a concussion, lacerations, or broken bones, you’ll likely be sent home with instructions to follow-up with your regular doctor.
This makes it important for car accident victims to continue seeking care after these initial visits. If the source of your headaches is not identified by your general doctor, you may want to consult with a chiropractor as well.
This professional can assess the alignment of your spine to search for displaced vertebrae, compressed nerves, and other musculoskeletal problems that are known to cause headaches.
Tension Headaches Can Be Caused by Stress and Emotional Fatigue
If you’ve ever caught yourself clenching your jaw when dealing with an extraordinary amount of stress, then you know that emotional upset can lead to headaches, too. Certain actions that people are prone to taking when they’re stressed can actually result in mild but persistent headaches.
In addition to clenching your jaw, maintaining a tight, tense posture can also lead to pain. According to chiropractic philosophy, tension throughout the musculoskeletal system can lead to improper posture, muscle stress, muscle spasms, and even joint dysfunction if prolonged.
People who’ve lost their primary forms of transportation may be facing extraordinary medical expenses and covering the cost of traveling to and from appointments. They may also have to take extensive time off from work frequently due to tension headaches.
Why Timely Medical Care Is Always Important After a Car Crash
There are many reasons why seeking timely medical care is always important after a crash. Even a minor auto accident can lead to whiplash, nerve compression, and other musculoskeletal issues.
If you’ve hit your head during one of these events, or if the back and forth movements of your neck and head were sufficiently severe, you may have a concussion or a critical fracture. Even though the adrenaline that a car accident incites may make you feel as though you’re okay, you could have serious injuries that require prompt attention.
It’s additionally important to note that medical treatment is also the first and most essential step in properly documenting your injuries. Visiting the emergency room right away helps establish that the resulting physical damages were indeed effects of your car accident and not some later experience.
Whether you develop a headache immediately after your crash or experience latent head pain, getting timely care from a licensed physician is always the safest choice. You may also want to consult with a lawyer if your pain was caused by an accident that was the result of another party’s negligence. You can click here to learn more about physical and mental pain and suffering.