Is it normal to have a headache after a car accident? What is a whiplash headache? What is a concussion? How long should my headache last? These are all questions that you might be asking yourself after you’ve been in a car accident.
Car accident injuries can range from mild to severe, and they can be felt instantly or days to weeks after the accident.
It’s easy to recognize broken bones and lacerations. However, some injuries, like a whiplash headache, are invisible because they don’t have obvious symptoms, or they may not surface for hours or even days after a car accident.
If you were involved in an accident and walked away with nothing but a headache, you might feel very lucky. However, don’t ignore a headache after a car accident. It could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Hidden Car Accident Injuries
While you may have walked away from a traffic collision seemingly without a scratch, a headache one week after your accident may be a sign of a more serious injury.
The most common type of invisible injury is an injury to the brain, sometimes categorized as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Closed Head Injury. These are often referred to as concussions or contusions. Not only can they go unnoticed by an accident victim, but they may not be diagnosed by medical providers.
Just as there are different levels of injury to other parts of the body, the same applies to a TBI injury. TBI injuries can range from mild to severe. The CDC defines a TBI as injuries that cause the normal function of the brain to be disrupted by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head (or a penetrating head injury).
Head pain associated with a TBI is often generalized as post-traumatic headache and can continue long after the initial injury.
Ideally, you should see a medical professional immediately following a car accident even if you feel fine, to be evaluated for injuries including possible head injuries.
Timely treatment is essential in not only helping the doctor find the root cause of the problem and provide appropriate treatment, but also to decrease the possibility of an insurance carrier challenging your injury claims.
Unfortunately, some insurance carriers assume accident survivors are exaggerating or even fabricating their symptoms. The bigger the gap of time between your accident and the diagnosis of injuries, the more difficult it is to establish a connection between your injuries and the accident.
What does it mean when you have a headache after a car accident?
The brain is a complex organ. It controls and coordinates actions and reactions, allows us to think and feel, and controls our breathing, swallowing, eye and mouth movement.
Your brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid is designed to protect the brain and keep it from slamming against the inside of your skull during an accident. It’s kind of like your brain’s seat belt!
However, if the accident is severe, your brain can actually push through the CSF and hit your skull anyway. This causes a concussion. When you hear “concussion,” you might think of football (or any kind of impact sport).
If you’ve paid attention to the concussion problems NFL players are faced with, then you might know the long-term problems concussions can cause. Concussions are not always easy to diagnose and symptoms don’t always surface right away.
Some signs which may indicate a concussion include:
- Sensitivity to light and/or sound
- Ringing in the ears
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Trouble sleeping
Concussions can be tricky to treat, but it’s important to see your doctor if any of these symptoms surface.
What about whiplash headaches?
Some headaches are mild, dissipate quickly, and have no lasting side effects. But headaches are one of the most common (and debilitating) car accident injuries.
Most people have heard the term whiplash, but may not fully understand what it means. Oftentimes, it’s referred to as a “soft-tissue injury,” but this minimizes the possible seriousness of whiplash.
In rear-end collisions especially, the impact forces your head and neck forwards and backwards in a sudden, sometimes violent motion. This strains the muscles and ligaments in your neck.
Whiplash headaches usually come with significant pain, positioned at the base of your skull, and don’t always show up right away. It could be several days or even several weeks after your accident.
Whiplash may also cause dizziness, fatigue, memory issues, visual disturbances, and trouble sleeping in addition to a terrible headache.
Is it normal to have a headache after a car accident? Should I go to the ER?
Not all car accidents result in post-traumatic headaches. The severity of the crash doesn’t always determine the severity of your injuries. Even low-impact crashes can cause headaches.
A good rule of thumb is that if your car accident was strong enough to bend metal, then it was strong enough to cause serious trauma – and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Unseen car accident injuries are often taken for granted. Anyone who has suffered from chronic headaches and pain knows how challenging it is for others to believe them.
However, regardless of the type of post-traumatic headache you experience, this pain is legitimate, and it can be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional.
Contact VanDerGinst Law
If you have a prolonged headache or other injuries after a car accident that wasn’t your fault, VanDerGinst Law would be honored to help you with a personal injury claim.
Speak to our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who help guide you through the complexities of your case, explore your options, and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win.
Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391.
The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.
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The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.