A case study reported on the National Institute of Health’s website from the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association (J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2007 June; 51(2): 83–90) demonstrates how serious headaches following car accidents can be:
In the study, a woman went to a chiropractic clinic, six days after a motor-vehicle accident. She reported neck pain, lower back pain and headache. Since she had no loss of consciousness, she did not seek immediate medical attention.
She merely took an Advil that night. However, the next day she had more pain down her left side. While she said she could perform most of her daily activities, she also said that she was experiencing dull, lower back pain & occipital headaches. She described her headaches resulting from the car accident as a pressure-like sensation.
She was told that she had a post-MVA strain/sprain injury of her neck and low back, along with cervicogenic headache.
About a month after her initial treatment, she began experiencing numbness in her right arm and weakness in her right leg. She was losing her balance. Based on another examination by her chiropractor, she was told to proceed to the hospital’s emergency department.
She received a CT scan & a diagnosis of subdural hematoma. She underwent surgical decompression.
Headaches following a car accident can mean a lot of different things. They could be signs of a slight concussion or a serious head trauma.
The forces on the head, neck & body during a car accident can be extreme. Even if you’re wearing a seat belt.
In some situations, victims of car accidents suffer a TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, injury. The TMG is the joint where a person’s lower jawbone meets the skull.
If you’re having headaches after a car accident, you should never assume that it’s nothing and will go away on its own. Be sure to report even the slightest headaches to first responders at the scene of you car accident.
If your headaches don’t begin until after you leave the scene of the accident, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
It’s also very common for nausea to accompany headaches from a car accident. Sometimes this nausea can also lead to dizziness and vomiting.
Headaches causing nausea or vomiting can also be signs of very serious head injuries including traumatic brain injury (TBI).
If you experience a headache accompanied by nausea or vomiting, you should seek emergency medical attention.
If you lose consciousness after a car accident, it’s very common that you will awaken with a serious headache. It’s also common to experience difficulty with your balance and vision.
Loss of consciousness is an especially serious condition. It can be a sign of a life-threatening injury to your brain.
If you’re caring for someone who loses consciousness after a car accident, even if it is several hours, days or even weeks following the accident, seek emergency medical attention for that person immediately.
In my experience working as an attorney to protect the rights of people injured in car accidents, I regularly see the serious consequences of injuries to the head. While you might think that getting a headache after a car accident is no big deal, if left untreated and monitored, it can lead to a serious injury that can drastically impact your entire life. Don’t take headaches caused by car accidents lightly.