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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Headaches After a Car Accident

Symptoms of PTSD After an Accident Versus Typical Reactions

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Everyone gets headaches. They are common issues that you can often treat on your own. However, some circumstances require medical intervention from a neurologist.

If you struggle with headaches after a car accident, visit our car accident doctor in New York at Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. They could be a symptom of a severe injury that requires professional treatment. Discover why headaches occur after a car accident below. 

What Causes Severe Headaches After Car Accidents?

Many people may develop headaches as a result of a car accident, but what causes severe headaches after car accidents? They often indicate a severe injury in the head, neck, or back. 

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

The Centers for Disease Control state that a headache could indicate a TBI, such as a concussion. You can develop a concussion after a blunt force hits you directly in the head. Concussions can also occur from forceful jerking movements often experienced during a car wreck.

A concussion develops when your brain tissues collide forcefully with your skull. This impact can damage your brain tissue, leading to bruises. Other TBIs include:

  • Skull fractures
  • Hematoma
  • Contusions
  • Hemorrhages


Most people associate whiplash injuries with neck and upper back pain. However, whiplash headaches can occur as a result of this injury. You can develop whiplash from the violent back-and-forth movements of your vehicle as it comes to a jarring stop.

These movements forcefully and rapidly pull your neck vertebrae and muscles. When whiplash injuries cause headaches, they usually develop after the accident. Thus, you might struggle to pinpoint the reason behind your ailment.  

Post-Traumatic Headaches

Post-traumatic headaches develop from mild TBIs and neck injuries. You might experience it within the hours or days following a car accident. Post-traumatic headaches can also cause disordered sleeping habits and lingering aches around your neck area.  

Post-Concussion Syndrome

If you suffer from a concussion, you might experience a post-concussion headache. This ailment can occur a few weeks after a car wreck. Long after your concussion treatment, post-concussion headaches can creep into your life with pain that can last nearly a month.  

Disc Injuries

Most people associate slipped or herniated discs with chronic back pain. However, these injuries can also manifest as headaches. Injured neck discs are especially prone to causing intense headache symptoms. 

Skull Fractures

This TBI develops when the impact and force of your wreck fractures bones in your skull or neck. You will likely experience intense pain at the injury’s source directly after the accident. The lingering headaches will develop around the same area as the initial injury.

Fractures can also indicate injured brain matter. The skull protects the brain from impact and other violent forces. When it breaks, it could bruise or cut into the brain, worsening the initial injury.  

Muscle Sprains

The push and pull of a wrecking car force your upper muscles to move in numerous directions. This force strains the muscles as you become tense in preparation for the impact. Long after the accident, the pain can linger and affect other parts of your body.

Your muscles and tendons consist of strong soft tissues. Those tissues can pull your head, neck, and shoulders with them during a sudden impact or force. Additionally, the subsequent inflammation and tightness can strain your head.

This may lead to headaches as a result of your muscle sprains. You may not develop a headache instantly, but it can come hours, days, and even weeks after the event. 

Other Symptoms That May Accompany Headaches After a Car Accident

How can you tell whether the headaches after a car accident share a connection with TBIs and other soft tissue injuries? BrainLine lists several symptoms that could indicate serious damage, which include:

  • Intense fatigue can prevent you from waking up or staying awake.
  • Your headaches increase in intensity and pain.
  • You may slur your words or otherwise struggle to speak.
  • Nausea and vomiting impede your ability to eat or drink.
  • Your loved ones may report personality changes or otherwise unusual behavior.
  • You could experience a limited range of motion when attempting to do typical tasks.
  • One pupil may appear larger than the other.

Each of these symptoms indicates that you need intensive treatment from a medical professional. 

How to Treat Headaches After Car Accidents

If you have a car accident, you may feel tempted to avoid the hospital and go back home. Especially if you have little to no pain, you might think you came out of it with no serious injuries at all. However, symptoms of physical trauma after a car accident can take months to develop. 

Emergency Medical Care

Immediately following a car accident, seek medical attention. The staff at the emergency room can use medical imaging to identify any abnormalities. They can also use special equipment and medications to mitigate any further damage. 

Seek Follow-Up Treatment with a Neurologist

After the emergency room staff gives you the all-clear, make an appointment with a neurologist. They can take a closer look at your circumstances and provide a fuller picture of what recovery could look like. Regardless of whether symptoms are present, people who seek prompt treatment often make fuller, less painful recoveries. 

Pain Management Options

Your neurologist may prescribe medications to help you manage your pain throughout your recovery. Take these prescriptions as advised to keep moving forward. If you find the medication has adverse effects, speak with your neurologist about another option. 

Use Continued Treatment Routines

When you see a neurologist for headaches, they may suggest exercise and therapy routines to increase blood flow to the damaged tissues and slowly increase your range of motion. Follow them carefully without overworking the injured area. Reinjury can cause as many problems as physical stagnation. 

When to See a Neurologist for Headaches

If you didn’t seek immediate medical attention following your car accident, you might wonder when to see a neurologist for headaches or whether they can still help you. If you struggle with headaches or any other pain related to a car accident injury, seek a neurologist as soon as possible. You can still make great strides in your recovery. 

Choose Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C., NYC’s Neurologist for Headaches

If you struggle with headaches after a car accident, you should seek attentive, flexible medical care to help you begin recovering. Seeing a neurologist after a car accident can put a stop to unnecessary suffering. Call our team at Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. at (347) 602-9530.

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

FAQs About Headaches After Car Accidents

How Long Can a Headache Last After a Car Accident?

A headache can last anywhere from a few hours to months after a car accident. 

Should I Visit the Emergency Room if I Have a Headache After My Accident?

You should visit the emergency room if you have headaches after a car accident. Headaches could indicate a severe injury that requires immediate medical attention. 

What Does a Concussion Headache Feel Like?

A concussion headache feels like a migraine with pain that originates around the front of your head and spreads toward your temples. Many people describe throbbing sensations along with the pain. 

What Happens When Concussions Go Without Treatment?

An untreated concussion can result in prolonged symptoms that interfere with your daily life. In extreme cases, it may result in permanent brain injury and death.  

About The Author

Picture of Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.

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