From a massage and neuromuscular therapist’s perspective, who has dealt with many auto accident victims, there are a few good reasons why you might experience headaches after an accident. Knowing these reasons can save you a lot of pain.
First, check with your doctor or head trauma specialist to make sure you have not had any head trauma. Be wary of taking a lot of prescription pain medications especially when there has been no diagnosis.
Also be aware that Post Traumatic Stress can lead to tension headaches after an accident. Irregular or disturbed sleep and jaw clenching are common symptoms because of stress which can result in headaches.
There are important ways that you can take care of two of the main headache muscles related to an auto accident. You can help yourself a great deal by knowing how to treat these 2 muscles.
Find an anatomy book with pictures to better follow along-
The Sternocleidomastoid Muscle
This muscle runs from behind the earlobe, heading diagonally across the front of the neck into the sternum. Find it by lying flat on your back and lifting your head. The SCM prevents the head from tilting during an accident but afterward it can become hypertonic, (tight) and/or weakened. This muscle has many trigger points running along it that can contribute to headache pain.
Massage the SCM
To prevent grabbing anything but the muscle, first, move your head to the same side you are working on. With your thumb and pointer finger (turned inward), squeeze up and down this muscle. Hold any tender points a little longer. Breathe deeply. Switch and do the same on the other side.
Range of Motion Stretch
Stretch this muscle by tilting your head to a 45-degree angle bringing your chin to your chest then bring your head back to position and lift it backward, again at a 45-degree angle. Do this to each side at least 5 times.
The Upper Trapezius Muscle
Locate this muscle by running your fingers along the top of your shoulder up into where it originates at the ridge between the bottom of the head and neck. Start at about 11/2″ from the joint that connects your arm to your shoulder. This muscle also has many trigger points running along it that contribute to a headache.
Massage the UT
Massage this muscle by squeezing it with your thumb and first two fingers into the neck region. Press deeply where it attaches to the neck area, rubbing back and forth as this is usually where you will feel most of the tension. Switch to the other side and do the same.
Range of Motion Stretch
Lift your right arm over your left ear, pulling the head towards the top of the shoulder. Keep your left shoulder relaxed and down. Stretch this left UT as much as is comfortable. Next, using arm pressure, move the head in small circles with the arm, circling 5 times towards the front, then 5 times towards the back. Release your arm first and let it fall to your side then slowly move your head back into an upright position. Now, go to the other side, lifting your left arm over your right ear and repeat.
Headaches after an auto accident are common and should be taken seriously. Not taking care of these 2 muscles with massage and stretching can cause a great deal of pain for years afterward.
Headaches after Minor Car Accident – What To Do?, Last Update: 3/5/2017