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How Should I Handle Post-Traumatic Headaches after a Car Accident?

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Represent Injured Clients Across Pennsylvania .

It is not uncommon for someone involved in a car accident to have severe headaches in the hours, days, and weeks after the collision. If you have head pain and other headache symptoms, you should see a health care provider as soon as possible to diagnose and document your condition. You may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment and other losses caused by debilitating migraines.

Are Headaches Common after a Car Accident?

Headaches after a car accident are so common because they have a wide variety of causes. Some are related to the actual trauma and force to the body during a collision. Tension or stress headaches are linked to a single stressful event, or a buildup of stress. A serious car accident would certainly qualify as a stressful event.

Different Types of Headaches

The more you know about the characteristics of different types of headaches, the closer you will be to a diagnosis, treatment, and much-needed relief. Here is an overview of the most common headaches that occur after a car accident.

Tension headaches. Car accidents are stressful under any circumstances. Sometimes that stress and worry about auto repairs, medical bills, and insurance claims has a real effect on the physical body in the form of a tension-type headache (TTH).

A TTH is less severe compared with other types of headaches, but it can still be very painful. A TTH involves mild to moderate pain and pressure that typically feels like a constrictive band around the head. These headaches can last anywhere from a half-hour to as long as a week.

Migraine headaches. A migraine headache causes severe pain, pulsing, or throbbing; sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells; nausea; and vomiting. Migraine attacks may last for hours and days. For many migraine sufferers, the pain is so intense it interferes with their daily activities.

Concussion headaches. Migraine headaches have a wide range of causes, but some are linked a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that alters brain function. They are typically caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head and upper body. Someone with a concussion might have problems with balance, coordination, and memory in addition to head pain.

Muscle strain and sprain headaches. In a car accident, the human body absorbs a substantial portion of the force on impact. When the muscles of the head, neck, and back tear or stretch too far, the person may experience significant head pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion.

Whiplash headache. Whiplash is an injury caused by damage to the supportive tendons and muscles of the neck. A car accident can force a person’s head and to snap backward and forward again, overstretching that soft tissue and causing painful headaches.

Occipital neuralgia headache. Back injuries are also common in car accidents, even for occupants who are properly restrained with a seat belt. An occipital headache is a type of headache that occurs when a slipped spinal disk compresses the occipital nerve. Beyond head pain, symptoms might include tenderness, numbness, tingling, and even burning in one’s extremities.

Fracture headaches. If you break, or fracture, a neck or skull bone in a car accident, you are likely to have some sort of headache. Fracture headache pain is typically located close to the site of injury or along the back of the head. Additional symptoms vary depending on the extent and location of the fracture.

Traumatic brain injury headaches. There is one type of traumatic brain injury called a concussion. TBI also refers to any other type of closed-head injury caused by a blow to the head. With a TBI, the brain is forced back and forth with considerable force, despite the absence of a skull fracture. That sudden, unnatural motion causes tears, bruising, and bleeding of delicate brain tissue and blood vessels. TBI symptoms vary but can include concentration and vision problems.

Why You Should Always Take Headaches Seriously?

You should never ignore any type of headache after a car accident. Head pain and other symptoms may indicate a serious brain injury. Left untreated, a brain injury can result in serious brain damage and chronic pain and symptoms that seriously impact your quality of life.

Also, if you were injured by a careless driver, delays in diagnosing a head injury can jeopardize your insurance claim or personal injury case. If you experience headaches after a car accident, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Always follow treatment guidelines as prescribed by your health care provider, and save any medical documents related to your accident and medical care.

How Are Headaches Treated?

Headache treatments vary from person to person, because of the wide range of headache symptoms and diagnoses. Here are some of the most common treatments used to relieve the pain and discomfort of a headache.

Medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medications are often used to treat headache pain. Prescription medications are used as preventives or as needed at the first sign of pain. All medications come with the risk of side effects and dangerous interactions. As with any treatment, patients and their providers should discuss the benefits, risks, and alternatives of headache medications.

Chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic care is a multi-pronged approach to addressing the underlying issues that contribute to headache pain.

Specific treatments include spinal manipulation to decrease pain and soft tissue mobilization therapy to strengthen the body’s connective tissues, relax the muscles, and reduce scar tissue that may be causing headaches. Massage and acupuncture are sometimes used in conjunction with chiropractic care to improve comfort and mobility and decrease pain and stiffness after a car accident.

Physical therapy. Physical therapy is also prescribed for those in car accidents suffering from headaches. It has been shown to reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches, improve mobility and function, and help patients move their neck more easily without discomfort. Physical therapy can actually decrease the need for medication as well.

Medical procedures. Some medical procedures have shown promise for treating headache pain. Injections of an anesthetic around a nerve can be beneficial, as can trigger point injections. Trigger point injections involve the injection of a numbing agent and corticosteroid at the site of pain.  

Factors that Determine the Value of a Car Accident Headache Case

If you were hurt in a car accident and your post-traumatic headache symptoms are seriously impacting your life, you may be entitled to financial compensation under the law. Compensation may include damages for medical bills, pain, suffering, lost income, and other losses.

To assess the value of a personal injury claim, several factors are considered, including the injured party’s: 

  • Medical bills and future costs
  • Age and baseline prior to the accident
  • Other accident-related injuries
  • Lost income due to the accident
  • Insurance policy limitations

In many states, the courts also consider the role the injured plaintiff played in the accident. If they were negligent in any way, even slightly, their damages can be reduced or denied altogether. The best resource to find out if you have cause to bring a claim against a negligent driver is a lawyer with experience resolving challenging car accident cases.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Represent Injured Clients Across Pennsylvania

Recurring headaches are debilitating. Severe migraines can make it virtually impossible to do anything but stay in bed. If you noticed head pain and other symptoms after a recent car accident, you may have grounds for legal action against the driver who injured you. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, are available to review your case and recommend the best legal course of action based on the facts. Our experienced legal team will fight to get you the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.