Car accidents are a metaphorical headache: you have to deal with police reports, insurance companies, doctors, and mechanics, even in simple fender benders. But they can also be a literal headache, leaving you in pain for hours and days after a collision. While you may be tempted to brush this off as stress-related or a simple nuisance, headaches after a car accident can be a sign of various injuries and conditions, some life-threatening. A chiropractor in Marietta will be able to help you understand the root cause of your headache and what treatment may be needed to address the damage behind the pain.
Below are five of the most common types of headaches our chiropractors see in accident victims.
1. Headaches Caused by Whiplash
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained in car accidents overall, occurring when a rapid or violent back and forth motion stretches the neck’s soft tissues too far, leading to strains or even tears. The damage to the tissues can range from minor and easy to resolve to severe and may require months of physical therapy to fully heal. The most common symptoms of whiplash are stiffness or pain in the neck and trouble moving the head, neck, and arms.
However, headaches are another common sign of whiplash.
Signs of a whiplash headache:
- Pain that begins in the base of the neck and radiates upward
- Visual disturbances, dizziness, or fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems with concentration and memory
2. Post-Traumatic Headaches
This is a more general classification for a headache caused by injury or impact to the head or a neck, though not specifically tied to whiplash or a concussion. This diagnosis is often associated with an accompanying brain injury, whether it is mild or severe. Post-traumatic headaches often result in delayed symptoms that appear days or even weeks after the actual trauma has occurred, so it is important to look out for them and to visit a chiropractor in Marietta before they have the chance to present.
Signs of a post-traumatic headache:
- Neck pain that radiates to the head
- Pulsating pain
- Migraine-like symptoms including dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea
3. Headaches Caused by a Fracture
Just like broken bones are common in an accident, the skull can also suffer a fracture. However, a fractured skull is one of the more severe car accident injuries. The pain may be localized to the site of the injury but is also likely to appear in the neck or back of the head, which is known as referred pain. These injuries require immediate attention and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.
Signs of a fracture headache:
- Intense and persistent pain
- A lump or dent on the head
- Loss of consciousness
4. Post-Concussion Headaches
Concussions are another common injury sustained during a car accident, as a result of either a blow to the head or a whiplash-like movement that causes the brain to crash into the skull’s hard surface. While concussions are often minor, they are still considered a traumatic brain injury that impacts brain function and requires monitoring. These headaches, also known as Post-Concussion Syndrome, often share characteristics of migraine headaches and are likely to appear after a delay.
Signs of a Post-Concussion headache:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Trouble with balance and coordination
5. Headaches Caused by a Pinched Nerve
Also known as an Occipital Neuralgia Headache, these pains are caused when a nerve is compressed during an injury such as a herniated disc. Compressions in a spinal nerve can travel up the back and into the head as the nerves communicate with each other.
Signs of a pinched nerve headache:
- Pain, numbness, or tingling near the base of the skull
- Pain, numbness, or tingling in other body parts
- A burning or tender feeling in the base of the skull
- Tenderness to the touch at the site of the injured nerve
Treating Headaches from Car Accidents
As demonstrated, some types of headaches are signs of minor injuries that require simple monitoring, while others may point to severe injuries that require emergency care. What should you do about a headache that won’t go away? Because of this variance, and the delayed onset of some headaches, it is important to visit a chiropractor in Marietta as soon as possible after a crash in order to rule out any life-threatening issues.
The chiropractors at AICA Marietta will be able to identify the root cause of your headache and relieve your pain by treating that injury, rather than just prescribing medication to mask your symptoms. Call us today to begin healing!