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Concussion Headaches After a Crash: How Long Do They Last?

Man with headache from a concussion applying ice bag while sitting on the couch at home

Headaches shouldn’t be ignored after a car crash or severe accident. Whether the symptom happens immediately after a collision or days later, the injured victim should quickly seek medical treatment.

Headaches after a car accident could be a sign of something more serious. They are a common complaint from victims who have suffered a concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to data collected by Stanford Health Care, headaches are the fourth most-common symptom concussion patients (73.2%) report.

Types of Headaches After a Head Injury

A TBI victim can suffer headaches regardless of whether or not they have a history. Most patients experience mild headaches after a concussion. When a headache occurs during an activity that requires concentration or effort, health experts recommend concussion patients take a break, rest, or sleep.

Tension headaches may also occur after a concussion. A trained healthcare provider can provide manual therapy to relieve tension in the shoulders and neck to reduce or eliminate tension headache symptoms.

Headaches vs. Migraines

Other concussion victims experience severe or more frequent migraines. Migraines are often mistakenly thought of as a more intense type of headache. This is untrue. Most headaches are caused by tension, while migraines are caused by blood vessels constricting within the brain.

In addition to pain, migraine symptoms may include auras, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, or smell. Head injury victims who already suffered from reoccurring migraines sometimes experience worsened symptoms or more frequent flare-ups.

Post-Concussion Headaches

Even after a person recovers from their TBI, there’s a chance they may suffer from post-concussion syndrome (PCS). This is when symptoms caused by the concussion linger in a patient for weeks, months, or years.

Headaches are the most commonly reported persistent symptom in PCS and usually occur alongside other symptoms such as memory problems, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and fatigue.

No single test exists to determine if you have persistent post-concussion symptoms. Scans and specialists may be needed to treat different symptoms depending on their severity. Medications must be made specific to the individual based on their needs. Be aware that overusing pain relievers may contribute to persistent post-concussion headaches.

How Long Do Concussion Headaches Last?

Most people recover from a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury within eight to 12 weeks. As long as the patient is following the orders of their doctor and doesn’t reinjure themselves, their concussion headaches and other symptoms should fade away over time.

However, if the patient develops post-concussion syndrome, then the recovery period may be longer. Treatment for post-concussion headaches may last for several weeks or months. In rare cases (2%), concussion victims become permanently impaired, and their headaches remain a recurring issue for the rest of their lives.

How to Help a Concussion Headache

Treatment by a doctor for headaches after a concussion will depend on the type of headache and other injuries or symptoms. Non-pharmacological treatments include getting good sleep, modifying eating habits, and reducing environmental stress.

For tension headaches, over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and aspirin may be recommended. Preventative medication (tricyclic antidepressants, propranolol, anti-convulsants, etc.) can also help.

Migraines may require stronger dosages or other prescribed medications. If an injured victim's headaches or migraines do not respond to treatment, they should be referred to a neurologist or pain clinic for further evaluation.

Do not delay in seeking concussion headache treatment. Delaying treatment increases the risk of developing chronic headaches after a concussion.

Concussion Accident Treatment

A headache following a car accident, as well as nausea or vomiting, are signs that you might have suffered a concussion. Even if a CT scan or MRI came back clean, it’s still possible that you received a mild traumatic brain injury.

If you’re suffering from constant headaches after a car accident due to a concussion or blow to the head, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim. Injured victims have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company (as long as they don’t accept a settlement offer).

Gary Martin Hays & Associates’ top car accident attorneys are here to help concussion victims receive all of the medical care they need to recover. We know that 15-30% of concussion victims will develop post-concussion headaches and other issues. They need someone in their corner to advocate on their behalf so that the insurance company can’t ignore them.

Talking to our team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers is free. Contact us today to get started.

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