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Why Accident Victims Should Not Ignore Headaches

Accidents can take many forms. You may be hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall. You may be knocked off your bicycle or struck by a vehicle while walking across the street. Regardless of the type of accident, it’s very common to be flooded with adrenaline in the immediate aftermath.

a woman with a headache

As that initial shock wears off, pain creeps in and you notice you have a headache that just won’t go away. If that happens to you, don’t ignore it. Post-accident headaches should never be ignored. Let’s talk about what headaches could signify and why prompt medical attention is so important after being injured in an accident.

Post-accident headaches can signal serious injuries

After being hurt in an accident, you will likely go to the hospital or see your doctor right away. The focus at that stage tends to be more “obvious” injuries like cuts, broken bones, or pain in your neck or back. You may not notice head pain right away because of your other injuries, or the head pain may not show up until a few days or weeks after the accident.

In either case, head pain should not be ignored. A post-accident headache can be the sign of a serious injury, including:

  • Concussion – a concussion is caused by a bump or blow to the head, or sudden jolt of the head or body. Headaches are one of the main symptoms of a concussion and should never be ignored, even if you didn’t hit your head (or don’t remember if you hit your head in the accident).

  • Traumatic brain injury – any suspected brain injury must be treated as an emergency. A concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury, but there are a variety of others, such as swelling, bruising, bleeding, and shearing injuries to the brain. A headache can be an indicator of a more severe brain injury which could be life-threatening if left untreated.

  • Skull fracture – the force of a car accident or fall can cause your skull to fracture. It may be hard to believe, but a fractured skull can go unnoticed. A mild fracture may not cause major symptoms and may heal over time. A more severe fracture can lead to bleeding or swelling in or around the brain, leaking cerebrospinal fluid, brain damage, infection, and/or seizures. Headaches can indicate a skull fracture that can only be detected by an X-ray.

  • Nerve damage – a pinched nerve in your neck (cervical radiculopathy) can cause different types of headaches, depending on where the nerve is pinched and how long the nerve has been compressed. Accidents can also damage occipital nerves that run through your scalp (occipital neuralgia) which can cause headaches that send pain through your neck and head. The headache may be accompanied by other symptoms such as tingling, pain, and numbness. It’s important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can perform tests (MRI, CT scan, etc.), to confirm whether the headaches are caused by a pinched nerve or spinal injury such as disc herniation.

  • Whiplash – a headache that radiates from your neck or the base of your skull may be a sign that you’ve suffered damage to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) in your neck and/or upper back. Untreated whiplash injuries can lead to problems such as stiffness and loss of mobility, chronic pain, and chronic headaches.

  • Psychological injury – post-accident headaches or migraines may be a sign that you have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the accident. Stress and anxiety can cause headaches, and there is a link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and frequent headaches.

The vital importance of prompt medical attention

Whether your head pain is immediate or develops in the days or weeks following the accident, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention so the source of the headache can be determined. Diagnostic tests (X-ray, CT scan, MRI, EMG, nerve conduction study) may be necessary.

Prompt medical attention and proper diagnosis are critical for several reasons. First, it ensures that you receive the right treatment and right away. Delayed treatment or lack of treatment can cause headaches and other injuries to worsen, becoming chronic and debilitating. Second, a prompt diagnosis helps connect the injury to the accident; if an injury is not diagnosed for some time after the accident, the defendant will almost certainly argue that the delay means the injury was not caused by the accident.

Third, the diagnosis, diagnostic tests, and medical records from your doctor or hospital visits will provide compelling evidence for your personal injury claim. As the accident victim, you have the burden of proving the nature and extent of the injuries caused by the accident to succeed in obtaining compensation. A brain injury lawyer at our firm can help you gather evidence to support your claim and maximize your personal injury compensation.

Get Legal Advice From An Experienced Head And Brain Injury Lawyer

Oshawa personal injury lawyers at Kelly Greenway Bruce are here to help if you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury following an accident.

At Kelly Greenway Bruce, we have lawyers who understand the complexity of personal injury cases. We can help you file a strong lawsuit and seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses.

You can rely on our lawyers to get the legal representation you deserve. Reach out to us at our Oshawa or Lindsay location to schedule a free case review with a brain injury lawyer.


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