After a car accident, it’s not unusual to experience headaches. Even if you didn’t suffer an impact injury to your head, a headache is usually a sign that something else is wrong. For example, it could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem, like whiplash or a neck injury. The force of stopping after traveling at a high rate of speed can easily damage your neck and head if it twists in an unnatural way.
It’s therefore important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. Don’t treat headache symptoms lightly. If your doctor determines that you have other injuries, this can help you in your car accident claim.
Types of Headaches After a Car Accident
Whiplash occurs when the neck extends or moves around in an unnatural way as a car suddenly stops. Most people who suffer from whiplash have strained or sprained the ligaments or muscles in the neck, but whiplash can also lead to damage around the spinal cord and vertebrae.
A whiplash headache is usually diagnosed if you develop a headache within a week of suffering whiplash. It is important to seek medical attention if you are in an accident and start to suffer from neck stiffness, dizziness, numbness or tingling, or any sort of memory loss.
Some whiplash headaches are able to heal on their own. People should see a doctor if the headache does not resolve itself within two weeks or gets worse. Treatment for a whiplash headache can include stretching, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen or Aleve. Physical therapy or the use of a cervical neck collar might be needed if symptoms do not improve.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Headaches after a car accident could also be a sign of a more serious injury to the brain. A TBI can occur if your head hits the side of the vehicle or another object in an accident.
This force can lead to significant damage to cells and tissues in the brain, which can then lead to long-term physical and emotional limitations. A headache could start immediately after the accident or start to manifest a few hours or days later.
Symptoms of a TBI include tremors, slowness of speech, unexplained changes in mood, loss of balance, changes in sleep patterns, or blurred vision. It is vitally important to see a doctor if you are experiencing any sort of headache, as it could be an outward sign of a TBI.
Sometimes, a headache might be a sign of a mild or moderate brain injury. This is usually the case if there is a brief loss of consciousness after a crash. A doctor will be able to advise about the severity of a brain injury and let you know if surgery might be needed to fix blood vessels or take out damaged brain tissue.
Concussions may lead to swelling in your brain, which can cause migraine headaches. If the headache symptoms last for more than six weeks, this could be a sign of post-concussion syndrome.
Such headaches may not present themselves as symptoms until days or weeks after the car crash. It’s therefore vital that you get medical treatment to minimize the likelihood of further complications.
Document Your Headaches and Medical Treatment
After seeking medical attention for any injuries after an accident, it is important to keep careful track of your headaches. Try to record as much information as possible, such as the date, time, and severity of the symptoms. Some people choose to start a journal to document physical and emotional pain (pain and suffering) that they experience due to their headache after car accident symptoms.
You should also keep medical paperwork, bills, prescriptions, and tests. This information will become very useful to your car accident attorney and can increase your chances of obtaining compensation.
An Orange County Car Accident Attorney Can Help Help You Recover Damages
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we understand how stressful it can be to deal with headache after car accident symptoms. We also know that these symptoms are often warning signs of more serious problems. We can help you pursue an accident claim that compensates you for your economic and non-economic damages. To learn more, please schedule a consultation today.