Have a Migraine? It Could Actually Be a Sign of Injury From a Recent Accident

It is not unusual to have an aching head after a car accident. The stress and adrenaline alone can cause a tension headache. But there are also times when car accidents cause migraines. If the accident was someone else’s fault, victims deserve compensation for migraine treatment, just as for any other injury.

It is sometimes hard to prove that migraine headaches were triggered by the accident, and not something else. Often, though, head pain is a symptom of an underlying injury that has a direct link to the crash. The attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch can help victims get reimbursement for treatment and lost wages resulting from debilitating migraine pain.

Migraines vs. Typical Headaches

The term “headache” is a catchall term for head pain. According to the American Migraine Foundation, though, migraine is a neurological disease brought on by various factors. Those factors include trauma to the head, neck, or spine. There are many different types and subtypes of both migraines and ordinary headaches. But there are some specific symptoms that set migraine headaches apart from other, less chronic problems:

  • Pulsating or throbbing pain
  • Pain is often on one side of the head
  • Pain that worsens with physical activity
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Trouble concentrating

Migraines may present with one or a combination of these symptoms. If a person experiences any of these after an accident, the crash could be responsible.

Accident Injuries that Trigger Migraines

An auto accident, a slip and fall, or any incident that includes shaking, jostling, or impact with the head, neck, or spine can result in migraines. Migraines can be a symptom of a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, but even mild head trauma can trigger severe headaches. The onset of head pain typically happens within about a week of the accident. Over the following weeks and months, it may become worse and more frequent.

The following conditions are common personal injuries experienced in car crashes. They can all include headaches as a symptom, which can develop into migraines over time:

  • Whiplash. A back and forth snapping motion of the head and neck can cause headaches.
  • Post-concussive. Headaches are common after a victim sustains a concussion by hitting their head on the steering wheel, window, or roof of the car.
  • Fracture. A traumatic brain injury like a fractured skull can result in localized head pain at the point of impact.
  • Muscle spasms. Damage to soft tissues in the back and neck can include pain that radiates up into the head.
  • Occipital Neuralgia. A herniated disc can pinch the occipital nerve at the base of the skull, causing headaches.

Head pain that begins with these conditions is due to tissue inflammation or activation of the trigeminal nerve, which is the main nerve in the head. The pain of neck and back injuries often travels up the spinal column to cause headaches and migraines.

Types of Migraines Caused by Car Accidents

Post-traumatic headache pain after a car crash will not always turn into migraine pain, but it can. For most people, the problem resolves within 6 months. For others, it might linger and never go away completely, especially if there is a traumatic brain injury too.

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Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more days with headaches per month. At least 8 of those instances will include some of the migraine symptoms above. The term episodic migraine refers to 14 or fewer headache days per month. Whether episodic or chronic, migraines can be painful enough to disrupt everyday life.

After a car accident, victims may not be sure if their pain is considered a migraine or just an ordinary headache. There are several subsets of migraines. These are the most common:

Migraines with aura include a specific set of warning signs before the onset of a severe headache, nausea, and other migraine symptoms. People may feel tingling or numbness and may see spots or zigzagging lines.

Migraines without aura are no less severe. The difference is that the symptoms come on suddenly and without warning.

Acephalgic or silent migraines are quite different in that there is no headache pain. All of the other symptoms are present, which can be uncomfortable and disorienting.

Migraine Treatment

Because symptoms do not always show up right away, it is always best to seek medical attention immediately after a car accident. Head pain or any bodily pain that does not go away or gets worse after an accident is cause for concern.

A CT scan or MRI will show a skull fracture or other brain injuries, but there is no definitive test to diagnose a concussion or migraine. Instead, a doctor or neurologist will assess the victim’s symptoms to determine what treatments are necessary.

A variety of medications may be prescribed for migraines including anti-inflammatory and pain medications, beta-blockers, and anticonvulsants. Injections of local anesthetics, corticosteroids, and even Botox around the nerves are also effective in treating cases of chronic pain.

Chiropractic adjustments or electrical stimulation have been found to help, and some find relief from alternative treatments such as acupuncture or massage.

Proving a Personal Injury Claim

When migraines result from an accident, the pain can be debilitating. When the other driver was negligent, the victim may claim the cost of doctor visits, tests, medications, and therapies for their migraines and any other injuries they suffered.

Even as they heal from other injuries like broken bones, cuts, and bruises, migraines can linger for a long time. The nature of the pain—dizziness, double vision, nausea, and impaired concentration—will make it difficult if not impossible to drive or go to work. For this reason, lost wages should also be factored into any damages claimed.

Insurance companies typically fight victims who claim damages for “invisible” injuries like migraines. The victim is the only one who knows exactly how painful their headache is. And because people get migraines for reasons besides car accidents, the insurance company can insist the crash was not the cause of the victim’s pain.

This is why it is a good idea to contact an attorney after any accident, but especially one that can be difficult to prove. A lawyer will help collect the proof showing that the migraines started after the crash. They will also help calculate the correct amount to claim, including all current and future expenses.

The attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch have the experience necessary to negotiate with insurance companies to make your case to get you the compensation for your migraines that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.


Car Accidents, Personal Injury