Headaches After a Car Accident: What It Means & How to Help

Headaches are a common complaint after a car accident. Whether the accident was minor or severe, the impact can lead to various types of headaches. Understanding the cause of your headache is crucial, as it can help determine the best treatment and ensure you get the appropriate medical attention.

Common Causes of Headaches After a Car Accident

Car accidents can jolt your body in unexpected ways. The sudden force of a collision can cause tiny tears in muscles and ligaments, especially in your neck and back.  These injuries can lead to inflammation and pain, which often manifests as a headache.

Here are some of the most common reasons you might have a headache after a car accident:

  • Whiplash: This is a common injury that occurs when your neck is jerked forcefully back and forth during an accident. Whiplash can strain the muscles and ligaments in your neck, leading to headaches, neck pain, and dizziness.
  • Concussion: Even a mild concussion can cause headaches. A concussion happens when your brain hits the inside of your skull. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, confusion, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your scalp, face, and jaw can all be injured during a car accident. These injuries can lead to headaches and facial pain.
  • Stress: The emotional trauma of being in a car accident can also contribute to headaches. The stress hormones released during the accident can cause muscle tension and headaches.

Different Types of Headaches After a Car Accident

Not all headaches are created equal. The type of headache you experience after a car accident can offer clues about the underlying cause. Here are a few of the most common types:

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are characterized by a dull ache and pressure around the head, often described as feeling like a tight band around the forehead. The stress and anxiety from the accident can significantly contribute to the development of these headaches.

Cervicogenic Headaches

Cervicogenic headaches originate from issues in the neck and can radiate to the head. These headaches are often accompanied by pain at the base of the skull and neck stiffness. They are typically caused by injuries to the neck muscles, nerves, or joints during the accident.


Migraines are severe headaches that can be triggered by the trauma of a car accident. Common symptoms include throbbing pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can significantly impact your daily life and require specific treatments to manage.

Immediate Steps to Take If You Experience a Headache After a Car Accident

If you develop a headache after a car accident, taking immediate action can help alleviate your symptoms and prevent them from worsening. 

  • Rest: Ensure you get plenty of rest to help your body recover.
  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as dehydration can worsen headaches.
  • Avoid Physical Exertion: Refrain from strenuous activities that could exacerbate your headache.
  • Monitor Symptoms: Keep track of your symptoms, noting their severity and frequency.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While most headaches after a car accident will eventually go away on their own, there are some situations where seeking medical attention is crucial.  Here are some signs that indicate you should see a doctor right away:

  • Severe pain: If your headache is so severe that it’s unbearable, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room or call 911.
  • Loss of consciousness: If you lost consciousness at any point during the accident, even briefly, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Changes in behavior: If you experience confusion, memory problems, or changes in personality after the accident, see a doctor right away.
  • Worsening symptoms: If your headache is getting worse over time, rather than improving, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any serious underlying conditions.

If you have concerns about your headache or any other injuries you sustained in the accident,  err on the side of caution and see a doctor.  A medical professional can help diagnose the cause of your headache and recommend the best course of treatment.

Treatment Options for Relieving Headaches After a Car Accident

What Causes Back Pain After a Car Accident?

Managing headaches after a car accident involves a combination of medical treatments and home remedies. Here’s a comprehensive overview of various options:

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is highly effective in treating headaches resulting from car accidents. Chiropractors can perform spinal adjustments and manipulations to relieve tension in the neck and back, addressing the root cause of cervicogenic and tension headaches. Regular chiropractic sessions can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Read more about the 7 Benefits of Chiropractic Care


Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate mild to moderate headache pain. For more severe headaches, doctors may prescribe stronger medications, such as muscle relaxants, triptans for migraines, or even anti-nausea medications to address associated symptoms.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can help strengthen neck and shoulder muscles, improve posture, and enhance overall mobility. Therapists use exercises, stretches, and manual therapies to alleviate pain and prevent future headaches. Physical therapy is particularly beneficial for those with neck injuries and cervicogenic headaches.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help manage and prevent headaches. These adjustments include:

  • Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress and tension.
  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Ensure that your workstation is ergonomically designed to avoid strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle tension.
  • Healthy Diet: Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to prevent dehydration-related headaches.

Home Remedies

In addition to medical treatments, several home remedies can provide relief from headaches:

  • Cold or Warm Compress: Apply a cold or warm compress to your forehead or neck to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough sleep, as poor sleep can exacerbate headaches.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and avoid headaches triggered by dehydration.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery to reduce stress and tension.

Getting Back on Your Feet with Affordable Chiropractic Killeen

If you’re struggling with headaches after a car accident, you don’t have to go it alone. At Affordable Chiropractic Killeen, our experienced chiropractors can help you find relief and get back to feeling your best. We understand that every injury is unique, so we take a personalized approach to care. In addition to chiropractic adjustments, we offer a variety of services like spinal decompression, active rehab, and on-site X-rays to create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Don’t let headaches hold you back from living your life. Contact Affordable Chiropractic Killeen today to schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help you heal and feel your best.