A car accident is a very stressful experience and can cause pain and discomfort that may last for days. Some car accident injuries are more obvious and can be treated right away, like scrapes, cuts, bruises, and broken bones. But how do you know what to do when you start to notice headaches or other symptoms in the days after an accident? Unfortunately, headaches can be common after a car accident, though they are not usually considered normal. In fact, a headache after a car accident can actually be a sign or symptom of a more serious injury. For head and neck injuries after a car accident, visit your Conyers chiropractor and find out if your headache might be caused by a car accident injury.
Head and Neck Injuries That Cause Headaches
Head and neck injuries are unfortunate but common car accident injuries. That is because, while the rest of your body is restrained by the seat belt, your head and neck are free to be shaken or jostled around during an accident. Injuries to the head and neck tend to have headaches as an initial symptom.
Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury and can result from hitting your head during the accident on the steering wheel, dashboard, window, or another part of the car. Your brain is protected housed inside the skull and protected from this hard, outer shell by a flexible layer that allows for small movements and general shock absorption from common daily movements. However, in a car accident, your head may be jolted so severely that the brain may actually hit the skull itself, which can lead to bruising. When this happens, it can literally cause you to feel pain in your head, also known as a headache.
Headaches are common symptoms of a concussion because of how the pain receptors in your head respond to the injury. When you hit your head, you may also have bruising and swelling in the area, which can also cause headaches or make an existing headache more severe. Other symptoms of a concussion include dizziness, confusion, disorientation, nausea, and even temporary loss of consciousness directly after the blow to the head. If you suspect you have suffered a concussion then you should see a doctor right away to get checked out. Even a mild concussion should be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible to avoid any negative, long-lasting effects.
Whiplash is the most common type of injury for people who have been in a car accident because of how the head and neck can be jostled around upon impact. When your head is flung in different directions with the force of the accident, it can cause the muscles in your neck to strain and stretch out of their normal range of motion. Whiplash is especially common in rear-end collisions where your head and neck jolt forward and snap backward in quick succession, straining neck muscles and even injuring the spine in your neck. This type of injury may not have symptoms right away, though they tend to appear in the hours and even days after the accident.
If you start to develop headaches in the hours after the accident, it is helpful to pay attention to any other symptoms you might notice as well. A headache paired with a stiff, sore neck after a car accident is a sign that you may have suffered from whiplash. Other symptoms of whiplash include pain when turning your neck in certain directions, muscle pain in your upper back and shoulders, and even tingling and numbness. Nerve pain may occur when a whiplash injury causes a herniated disc. When a disc slips out of its normal place of cushioning two vertebrae, it can put pressure on nearby nerves and cause pain and discomfort.
How Chiropractic Can Help
While sometimes a headache is just a headache, when coupled with a traumatic event and other symptoms it should be taken as a warning sign that something more serious might be going on inside your body. Your Conyers chiropractor will perform a physical exam and may also use diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays and CT scans to get a clearer picture of your head and neck. Gentle, safe chiropractic adjustments can help address spinal misalignments that may have occurred from the accident and contributing to your pain. Additionally, therapeutic massage and stretching can help soothe your sore muscles and help bring oxygen-rich blood flow to the area so your soft tissues can begin to heal. Visit your Conyers chiropractor at AICA Orthopedic and learn more about how your chiropractor can help you find lasting pain relief from a headache after a car accident.