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It’s not uncommon for people who have been in car accidents to suffer from headaches. Trauma to the head, neck, or back often causes these injuries and needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes they appear right after the collision, while others don’t show up for several days later. If you’re suffering from headaches after a car accident, you should know what to do.

What types of headaches are commonly associated with car accidents?

Man Having a Headache. Could this headache be associated with a recent car accident?
Man Having a Headache | Wiki Commons

There are typically four types of head pains that appear after being in a collision with your car. These four types offer differing levels of pain and symptoms. Understanding the symptoms of each will help you know how to proceed with treatment and care. According to The Weekly Driver, the four most common headaches associated with car accidents are:


This is a common injury caused by the sudden jerking of the head and neck forward and back. You might feel pain in your head, but the injury is actually in your neck. Whiplash is caused by the ligaments and muscles in the head and neck becoming torn and stretched beyond their natural limits. Some symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Shoulder pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


You may feel pain in your head that doesn’t start until days after the accident. You might feel severe pain that lasts for weeks or months. Some of the symptoms of this type of headache are:

  • Severe pain, usually on one side of the head
  • Intense pressure or throbbing sensation
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of concentration or memory


Concussions are a pretty common injury associated with car accidents. Some ways you might know if you have a concussion include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Feeling “off” or confused

Muscle Strain/Spasm

Often, a muscle strain or spasm might not appear until the day after the accident or even a few days later. The release of adrenaline flowing out of the muscles after the traumatic event causes the delay. Symptoms of a muscle strain/spasm headache include:

  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

How long can headaches last after car accidents?

Head pain after a car crash can often last anywhere from one hour to an entire week. While expected, if you’re feeling any type of pain or experiencing the symptoms listed above, you should seek medical attention to have your pain diagnosed.

What causes headaches after a car accident?

The violent nature of this crash test could certainly lead to headaches after car accidents.
Crash Test Displaying Head and Neck Movement | Wiki Commons

The most common cause of headaches after a car wreck is the sudden impact and jolt to the neck and head, according to Florida Physical Medicine. During a crash, The muscles and soft tissue can become torn, strained, and injured. Sometimes, the only medicine for these headaches is rest and exercise, but it’s important to consult a doctor to determine if more extensive treatments are necessary.

Should you go to the ER for a headache after a car collision?

This corner frontal car accident could certainly lead to headaches.
Car Accident | Wiki Commons

Yes, you should see a doctor after an accident if you have any pain. If you’re feeling head or neck pain, it’s important to allow the emergency responders to send you to the Emergency Room. If you have a concussion and get back behind the wheel of your car, assuming it’s drivable, you could end up in another accident.

It’s important to take pain seriously after car accidents

We can often be dismissive of headaches or muscle pain, even in a car crash. Just because you don’t see a bone poking through your skin or blood everywhere doesn’t mean you don’t require medical attention. If you feel any type of pain after an accident that wasn’t there previously, let your doctor diagnose the problem. Car crashes are extremely traumatic, and it’s often hard to determine the impact on your body. Some injuries or pain might not appear until days later.


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