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Should I Go to the ER for a Headache After a Car Accident?

If you were recently involved in a serious car accident and are suffering from a headache, you may be wondering if you should go to the emergency room. Some injuries are quite obvious that they require medical attention, but with internal injuries, or aches and pains, it is not always so easy to tell if you should make a trip to the ER. If you are suffering from headaches, neck, or back pains, even if they started days or weeks later, it is likely that you sustained the injuries as a result of the auto accident.

Look for these symptoms of headache pain after you have been in an accident:

  • tightness or pressure across your forehead
  • a dull, aching sensation in the head
  • pressure on the sides or back of the head
  • tenderness of the scalp, neck, or shoulders

Headache pain after a car accident can last for only 30 minutes, for several weeks, or even longer. The pain may come and go, or it can be a constant pain. But how do you know if you should seek medical treatment? One clear sign that you should seek medical treatment is if you have suffered from a headache for more than 15 days in a three-month period of time.

While there are many injuries that can cause headaches following a car accident, certain injuries are more likely to occur and cause pain than others. Here are the most common types of headaches.

Post-Traumatic Headache: This type of headache is usually caused by trauma to the head and neck in a vehicular accident. Post-traumatic headaches may not appear for days or weeks after the accident, and originate from:

  • the neck or the brain as a direct result of a concussion
  • muscle contraction/spasm
  • pinching of nerves in the neck or at the base of the skull.

Post-Concussive Headache: Commonly known as migraine headaches, this type of headache, if coupled with a concussion, is a “chemical phenomenon” in the brain. Symptoms likely to occur with this type of headache include:

  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • sensitivity to certain smells and movement

Symptoms that may occur include:

  • clouded thoughts
  • memory loss
  • confusion, irritability, anxiety, and depression
  • sleep problems, dizziness, and balance problems
  • ringing in the ears

Muscle-Contraction/Spasm Headaches: One of the most common causes of headaches after a car wreck, is caused when the muscles of the neck, head, or upper back are injured. Especially during an auto accident, a sudden jolt on the neck and head can tear or injure the soft tissue, causing strain or spasm of the muscles. Along with a headache, you may experience muscle strain which can reduce your range of motion, tenderness of the affected area, or redness and swelling.

Whiplash Headache: Whiplash is a common injury in motor vehicle accidents, caused by a sudden force upon the head and neck. The head is often forced far forward and far backward, and this jerking action can strain soft tissue. Whiplash headaches are focused near the base of the skull. Other symptoms include neck pain or stiffness, dizziness, and fatigue, which may not appear for days or weeks following the accident.

Fracture Headache: A fractured skull can result in intense fracture headaches. Pain in these types of headaches is often at the back of the head and neck or can be localized near the injury site. Along with persistent headaches, brain injury can also become a factor with a fractured bone. The severity of the symptoms depends on the type and extent of the bone fracture. Apart from the fracture headache, other signs may include nausea, confusion, slurred speech, or stiff neck.

Occipital Neuralgia Headache (Pinched Nerve): During an accident, it is possible that the compression of the spine or disc herniation results in a pinching of the upper cervical (neck) nerve roots or irritation of the greater occipital nerve (nerve at the base of the skull). When these nerves are compressed, a person will experience pain, tenderness, burning, numbness, and tingling from the neck/base of the skull up to the back of the head. It is often tender even to touch.

Any time you have been involved in a car accident, you should take the following action.

Get Medical Attention Immediately

There are several reasons why you may experience headaches after a car accident, and you should seek medical care so you can get a full evaluation and proper diagnosis.

Do Not “Wait and See”

Although you may not be in extreme or constant pain, or over-the-counter drugs help alleviate the pain, do not wait and see if it goes away or gets better on its own. A ‘wait and see’ attitude is not the best course of action with any injury after a car accident.

Follow Medical Treatment and Recommendations

The treatment for motor vehicle accident injuries varies based on the diagnosis, so it is important that you do not self-medicate. You should always complete all prescribed treatments from your doctor, including physical therapy.

Know Your Legal Rights

Your medical care provider should be able to determine if your injuries are related to the accident and prepare any necessary documentation that is needed to help you obtain the compensation to which you are legally entitled.

Contact Us Today

Having a knowledgeable and trusted personal injury attorney working for you can make the difference in ensuring you get full compensation for your injuries and damages. Your attorney will know where to find the evidence you need to support your claim.

At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we listen to you and want to hear your story!

When you contact us, we will take the time to get to know you and understand all the ways your life has been affected by your accident. We pride ourselves on being empathetic, compassionate, and caring. This is just one of the reasons we are Florida’s top-rated personal injury attorneys – providing personalized legal advice addressed to meet your individual needs.

From the first call, you will know that we will be there with you, helping you navigate through what can be a complex, difficult, and emotionally challenging time. We strive to provide you with all the information and resources you need. We are dedicated to making your life easier. From start to finish, we will promptly answer all your questions and provide the best legal advice, so you can make informed decisions about your future.

We build trust through open, timely communication, and straightforward legal advice. We are an award-winning, established personal injury law firm, fighting for our clients for over 60 years, and have recovered more than $145 million in awards.

Contact us today and we will fight to get the results you deserve.


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