Dana Adkins, Esq.
Beyond the Agony - What You Need to Know About Headaches After an Automobile or Slip & Fall Accident
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Headaches, whether mild or severe, are a common symptom after an automobile accident or slip and fall accident. Headaches may occur even without a direct head injury. The onset of a headache after an accident, with no direct trauma to the head, might be the result of a whiplash-like injury, a concussion, or both.
Brain Injuries After an Automobile Accident In accidents involving motor vehicles, when your motor vehicle is struck by another vehicle, it can experience an acceleration / deceleration movement. The force of your vehicle coming to a sudden stop from a high rate of speed can cause a sudden forward and backwards movement to the head and spine. The rapid acceleration / deceleration causes the brain to hit the sides of the skull, causing the damage. For those accidents where the head does not strike the vehicle's interior, the idea that you suffered a brain injury may not be immediately known.
Brain Injuries After a Slip and Fall Accident When you slip and then fall backwards, your neck muscles instinctively tighten in an effort to keep your head from hitting the floor. It requires significant muscle strength in the neck to protect the skull in that single second. The actual hyper-extension-hyperflexion injury occurs immediately before the neck muscles tighten. When they tighten, some muscles might already be strained, but other injured muscles might not present immediate symptoms. Over the time of a few days, those muscles might become symptomatic too. Thats' when the problem presents itself on two levels. The victim experiences symptoms directly connected with the hyperflexion-hyperextension injury, and he or she also suffers a chronic state of neck muscle tension from muscles that never returned to their relaxed state before the fall. That can all result in tension headache.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of a Brain Injury People who go to a hospital following an accident with complaints of headaches may receive a brain MRI or CT Scan. However, even if the results of these tests show no observable damage to the brain, this is not proof that he or she did not suffer a brain injury. Over time, the headaches may not go away and can be accompanied with other symptoms, including dizziness, confusion or blurred vision. Sometimes they only last a few hours or days, but sometimes they persist for years. For people who have these symptoms after a motor vehicle accident, it is important to realize that they may not be temporary. The symptoms can persist or even worsen. For some people, symptoms can worsen to the point where they start developing depression, personality changes and experience difficulties concentrating on basic tasks. Also, never assume you didn't really hurt yourself in an accident. Even minor accidents can have lingering consequences. Often the injuries don't manifest themselves for hours or days after the accident. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you feel fine.
Common Causes of Headaches After an Accident
• Post-Concussive Headache (i.e. Migraine Headaches): Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that result from the brain being thrown against the inside of the skull. Critical symptoms to look for in the hours and days after an accident include nausea (sometimes with vomiting), light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and also sensitivity to certain smells and movement. Other symptoms of concussion include such as clouded thoughts, memory loss, confusion, irritability, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, dizziness, balance problems, and ringing in the ears. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a TBI can be debilitating because of long-term effects on a victim‚Äôs motor, behavioral, social and vocational functioning.
• Whiplash Headache: Whiplash is a common injury of motor vehicle accidents, caused by a sudden force upon the head and neck. The head is often forced far forward and far backwards, and this jerking action can strain soft tissue. Whiplash headaches generally are focused near the base of the skull, and may accompany neck pain or stiffness, dizziness, and fatigue. Often this type of headache does not appear for days or weeks following the accident.
• Post-Traumatic Headache: This type of headache is usually caused by trauma to the head and neck during an auto accident or other traumatic event. Post-traumatic headaches may originate from the neck, from the brain, as a direct result of concussion, from muscle contraction/spasm, or from pinching of nerves in the upper neck or at the base of skull. Usually this type of headache does not appear for days or weeks following the accident.
• 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, muscle strain can also cause reduced range of motion, tenderness of the affected area, or redness or swelling.
• Fracture Headache: A fractured skull or neck bone 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 neck nerve roots or irritation of the nerves 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 the back of the head. It is often tender even to touch.
How Can an Attorney Help? When you suffer a headache after an accident, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you are fully compensated. Individuals who have suffered a brain injury due to the negligent acts of another are entitled to monetary compensation for numerous damages including:
(1) Hospitalization and all Medical Expenses;
(2) Future cost of medical care and rehabilitation care;
(3) Lost Wages and loss or future income resulting from disabilities;
(4) Pain and Suffering including emotional trauma and psychological damage. Dana Adkins Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping victims of injuries that were caused by the carelessness and negligence of others. We have the legal training and trial skills, along with the resources necessary to obtain full and fair compensation for our clients. If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please contact us for a FREE legal consultation by calling or texting us 24/7 at (843) 330-7687. You can also ask us questions through the 24-hour chat box on our website (www.PalmettoStateInjuryLawyers.com).