It’s fairly common to experience a headache after an auto wreck. Some people who suffer from headaches before an accident will feel more intense headaches after the wreck. While many people will feel headaches coming on in the first few hours following the accident, others won’t experience such symptoms until several days or even weeks after.
Getting a headache after an auto wreck can indicate a variety of issues, including a concussion. Interested in learning more? Continue reading and we’ll walk you through what you’re post-accident could mean and what to do about it.
Common Causes for a Headache Following an Auto Wreck
There are a variety of reasons why you might be experiencing a headache after an auto wreck. It can be caused by a blow or strike to the head. Whiplash is another common reason why people suffer from headaches after an accident.
The force and impact that was exerted during the wreck can affect the severity of your headache.
Types of Headaches After a Car Accident
A post-traumatic headache is one that’s caused by trauma to the neck and head during an car wreck. These headaches may originate at the neck or brain. They can also be cuased by muscle spasms as well as the pinching of the neck area.
A whiplash headache is a very common injury during car accidents. In fact, more than two million Americans every year suffer from whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head is violently forced far backward and far forward.
This jerking motion can strain soft tissue. A headache from whiplash usually occurs at the base of the skull. Symptoms can include stiffness or pain in the neck, fatigue, and dizziness.
You can also experience an intense fracture headache when you suffer from a fracture to your neckbone or skull. You’ll normally feel pain at the back of your neck and head. Or the pain may be localized at the site of injury.
When you have a fractured skull, you can also suffer from persistent headaches and brain injury. Other symptoms may include confusion, stiff neck, nausea, and slurred speech.
An occipital neuralgia headache, also known as a pinched nerve, can result from a few different scenarios. A common cause is when disk herniation or the compression of the spine results in the pinching of the neck nerve roots. Irritation of the nerve at the base of your skull, known as the greater occipital nerve, cal also cause this type of headache.
When these nerves get compressed, you might suffer from tenderness, numbess, pain, burning, and tingling in the base of your skull and the neck. The area is usually sensitive to touch as well.
Concussions are also extremely common after auto wreck. Let’s learn more about post-accident concussions below.
What Is a Concussion?
We often hear about concussions happening in sports but not as much when it comes to car or motorcycle accidents. But what exactly is a concussion? To put it one way, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is caused by either a blow to the head or a violent shaking where the brain hits against the skull.
Concussions can temporarily affect the brain and cause confusion. It can also bring on troubles with speech, balance, memory, and vision. If left untreated, concussions can lead to serious medical problems.
How Does a Concussion Occur?
A person’s brain essentially has the consistency of gelatin. Inside the skull, there is cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain from everyday bumps and jolts.
When you suffer from a violent strike to the upper body, neck, or head, your brain can slide back and forth. This can lead it to hit against the inner walls of the skull. Also, hen you experience whiplash, a similar situation can happen inside your head.
Brain function can then be affected. Although this is usually only for a short period of time. However, a concussion can also lead to bleeding inside the brain and cause prolonged confusion and drowsiness.
Bleeding inside the brain can be fatal. This is why it’s so important that anyone who experiences a TBI is monitored in the following hours. If you’re symptoms worsen, you should be taken to emergency care.
Symptoms of a Concussion
If you’ve experienced one or more of the following symptoms, then you may be suffering from a concussion:
- Feeling pressure in the head
- Feeling like you’re in a fog
- Slurred speech
- Appearing dazed
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Amnesia surrounding the accident
- Slow to respond to questions
Other symptoms include lapses in memory, irritability, sensitivity to noise and light, and depression.
When to See a Doctor
If you feel that you’ve experienced any kind of head injury, you should see a doctor within the first few days following the accident.
You should seek emergency medical attention if you experienced a head injury and are exhibiting any of the following symptoms:
- Losses of consciousness that exceed 30 seconds
- Changes in behavior
- Disorientation or confusion
- Repeated vomiting
- A persistent headache that appears to be getting worse
- Problems with physical coordination
- Slurred speech
- Lasting dizziness
- Large head bumps
- Vision disturbances
You should also avoid doing any physically-demanding tasks until you’ve been evaluated by a health care professional.
Although concussions usually get better after resting, they can sometimes end up leading to other complications. Let’s look at some of those complications below.
A post-traumatic headache usually resembles a tension headache or migraine. It’s a common effect of concussions and can occur after mild as well as severe injuries.
Post-traumatic vertigo is when someone feels dizzy following a TBI.
Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder that can have a range of symptoms. People who suffer from post-concussion symptoms may experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, and blurred vision. The effects of this disorder can last for days, months, or even years.
Second impact syndrome is when a person experiences a second concussion before the symptoms from their original concussion start to show. This can lead to more severe post-concussion symptoms and rapid swelling of the brain.
Diagnosis for Concussions
After your doctor asks you detailed questions about the incident, they may perform a neurological examination. This examination will likely check on your:
- Sensation and strength
You might also undergo cognitive tests that are designed to evaluate your concentration and memory.
People who experience severe headaches, vomiting, or seizures will likely undergo brain imaging evaluations. These tests are designed to see how severe your TBI is and if there is swelling or bleeding in the skull.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be used in order to see if there are changes in your brain. It can also diagnose problems that occur after concussions. An MRI is able to do this by utilizing powerful radio waves and magnets to produce images of your brain.
A CT (cranial computerized tomography) scan is the standard test used to evaluate a brain right after an injury. A CT scan utilizes X-rays in order to get images of your brain and skull.
It’s widely recommended that you spend plenty of time resting after a concussion so that your brain can properly recover. This includes physical as well as mental rest. You’ll be asked to avoid any physical exertion as well as playing sports until you’re healed.
You should also limit activities that include mental concentration and thinking. This can include watching TV, reading, using a computer, playing videogames, schoolwork, and texting. Performing these activities can exacerbate your symptoms.
Your health care provider will probably ask that you limit your time at school or work and take breaks throughout the day. You should also reduce your workload while you recover from your concussion.
As you get better, your doctor will let you know when it’s okay for you to take on some light physical activity. You may even be permitted to do some light jogging or stationary bike riding before your symptoms are totally gone.
After all of the symptoms and signs of your concussion are gone, you and your doctor will talk about what you need to do in order to get back to your normal daily life activities. Doing too much physical activity too soon can result in a second concussion and even a fatal TBI.
For headaches, taking a pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help. You should avoid other pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen since these medications can increase your risk of bleeding.
Making a Concussion Claim
A concussion is like any other diagnosis. You can only make a claim for damages for your concussion if your doctor thinks that it’s related to your accident. If you believe that your concussion and/or post-concussion syndrome was caused by your car wreck, and your doctor disagrees with that, you won’t be able to claim damages for that injury.
If a situation like this were to occur, you would have to find another doctor who agreed with your assessment before you include those damages in your claim.
Pain and Suffering
When making an accident claim, you should also ask for compensation for pain and suffering. Your testimony, as well as your doctor’s testimony, will be used to prove your pain and suffering. The testimony from your doctor should prove that you suffered from a concussion and that the concussion was a result of the accident.
The jury will also want to hear from you. You will have to detail what your complaints and symptoms are. You’ll also have to describe how disabling they are, how long they lasted, and how they have affected your life.
You will want to work carefully with your lawyer so you can be properly prepared to give an appropriate testimony on your pain and suffering.
Problems Post-Concussion Syndrome Claims
The biggest problem with claiming damages for post-concussion syndrome is that the symptoms are usually not as cut-and-dry as other post-accident complications. This is a problem with many TBI cases.
Insurers prefer it when they can settle cases that are obvious and straightforward. It’s easy to prove that someone broke an arm in an auto wreck, how to diagnose the injury, what the period for recovery is, and what the symptoms are. Since post-concussion syndrome isn’t as clear, insurers may not offer you the damages you feel you deserve.
And if you find a doctor who agrees that you suffer from post-concussion syndrome, your insurance provider may insist that you visit one of their doctors who may very well disagree.
Hire a Personal Attorney
It’s reasons like the ones listed above that make it so important that you retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. A reliable lawyer will know exactly where the threshold is when it comes to your insurance company’s settlement limit. And they will fight hard to get that limit raised.
If you have to go to trial, your attorney will be prepared to hire experts and depose witnesses in order to corroborate the findings of your doctor.
The Importance of Understanding Concussions After an Auto Wreck
After you experience a traumatic event like an auto wreck, you may very well suffer the painful effects of a concussion. By knowing what symptoms to look for, what your treatment options, and how to collect damages, you can get better quicker and also regain control of your life.
Were you recently in a car accident? If so, contact us today and see how we can help get you the compensation you deserve.