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The Correlation Between Car Accidents & Headaches

After a car collision, it’s not unusual for an accident victim to experience minor and/or debilitating headaches. For some people, this pain only lasts for a few hours and naturally fades away as the body heals. For others, these headaches can last for years and even become a permanent fixture in their lives. If you have a headache after a car accident, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Types of Car Accident Headaches

Deceleration Injuries

Quite simply, the human body is not designed to withstand the physical repercussions of a blow to the head or the rapid deceleration of a car, both of which are common occurrences in a car accident. Deceleration injuries can occur if you are hit by an airbag or strike your head against the steering wheel, dashboard, or even the side of the car. Deceleration injuries often lead to severe headaches and other medical complications.


Persistent headaches can also be caused by whiplash, which is the sudden back-and-forth jerking of the head and neck. Whiplash is another deceleration injury, except that it doesn’t necessarily involve a blow to the head.


Headaches are also a common symptom and side-effect of concussions. These “post-concussion headaches” typically heal in a matter of days, but an unfortunate few, the “miserable minority,” suffer persistent pains for years. Unfortunately, if your headaches do not resolve 6 months after your car accident, they may be a long-term or permanent problem.

Tension Headaches

When your body is suddenly jolted in a car accident, you may suffer severe injuries to your neck and cervical spine. These injuries often lead to “tension headaches,” which originate from associated muscle tension and spasms in the neck, upper back, and shoulders.

Tension headaches can be caused by:

  • Damage to the soft tissues and nerves in your neck
  • Tears and strains in your neck and back muscles
  • Compressed discs

Migraine-Like Headaches

Migraine-like headaches are thought to be caused, in part, by any changes in the diameter of the arteries and veins in the brain. Trauma to these arteries and veins in a car accident often leads to intense and painful headaches.

The “pounding” pain of these headaches tends to be focused in the front of the head and around the temples. This pain can exacerbate if the car accident victim is sensitive to light, intensely concentrating, or suffering under severe emotional stress.

The “Stabbing” Headache

A “stabbing” headache is a sudden, sharp pain that is so intense it brings victims to their knees. This pain lasts for only a few short seconds to a couple minutes, which makes it difficult to treat. However, there are some drugs such as anti-seizure medications that may be effective, so long as they are prescribed by a medical professional.

The Limits of Medical Science

Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult for medical professionals to effectively treat car accident-related headaches. This is because certain brain traumas don’t appear on brain scans or MRIs. Doctors often have to rely on their knowledge of medical symptoms to help a patient.

Insurance adjustors often question personal injury claims because the pain of a headache is considered “subjective.” Claimants pursuing damages often find it devastating to have insurance adjustors and doctors question their injury. For this reason, it’s important that you retain the services of an experienced attorney if you’re planning to file a claim.

Schedule a Consultation

Contact the St. Louis car accident attorneys at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. if you’ve been injured in a car accident and are experiencing painful headaches as a result. We provide free consultations so that you can discuss your concerns with an experienced attorney in a stress-free environment. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay any attorney fees unless you collect damages.

We provide evening and weekend appointments. Contact Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. at (314) 635-7606 to schedule your free consultation. We can meet with you at your home or hospital room if it’s more convenient to your situation.