Hit By A Speeding Car

This really crappy thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I was on a four-lane city highway, waiting patiently in the left-hand lane to make a turn onto the street that leads to my bookshop. I was at a full stop, waiting for traffic to clear so I could turn.

And then something caught my eye. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw a car zooming toward me right as I heard the squeal of brakes and saw, for the briefest of moments, black smoke come up from the street where the driver’s wheels tried to screech to a halt.

BAM!

Hit from behind by a speeding car. It was so fast, so unbelievable. I looked around the car as if to orient myself. I looked down at my body: everything was in its place, the seatbelt having held me in safely. I pulled down the street to park safely and then made sure the other guy was okay as I dialed 911.

I thought because I wasn’t immediately bleeding or crying from pain that I’d be fine. I didn’t need an ambulance, & I felt okay. But the state trooper who arrived at the scene, my beau, and my insurance agent all encouraged me to go to the hospital. I was a little loopy (turns out hitting your head on the back of the seat can do that to you when you’ve been hit so hard), but I didn’t feel all that bad.

The ER doctor told me it’d be a little worse the next day, and then the next. By the end of that day, I had a migraine, which is no surprise. The back and neck pain were mild at first, and I was really encouraged, thinking this wouldn’t be all that bad.

And oh. my. gosh. This HURTS. Some days I feel fine, as if almost nothing happened; the next day I bend down to turn the faucet on and my back explodes into spasms and I start to cry. A couple of days ago my neck was stiff and in pain—one of my migraine triggers. And, sure enough, I had a migraine by evening.

Has anyone reading this been in a car accident where back pain, neck pain, and/or whiplash were at play? How did you take care of yourself so that the accident didn’t exacerbate your migraines? Did your migraines get worse? How did you deal?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (17)
  • nem360
    1 year ago

    ugh….still dealing with this! I got into an accident on Jan16,2018 and it wasn’t bad on my car but is wreaking havoc on me. I was sitting in line at a red light and BAM! guy hits me with no attempt to stop nothing. I flung forward had my seat belt on but i was already kind of sitting forward so it let me go more before it stopped me my shoulders folded in towards my chest my head bent down and touched my chest and the top of my head bumped my steering wheel before I snapped back aginst my seat. I got out (not in a happy way at 7am!) chewed the guy out a bit looked at my car and couldn’t believe that there was the tiniest scratch. got the guys info, he was doing the “oh you have no damage” thing but he was alos on the clock driving for a transport service with people in his van! so I called his company and told him he hit me thne my ins co who asked if i was ok. I said well i hit my head a little and my neck is a bit stiff but i had a doc apt already scheduled on the 18th so i would wait. BIG MISTAKE! A month later 4 docs apt and one trip to the emergency room from the headache, pain in my neck, stiffness and ringing in my ears has been miserable. The constant dull headache I could “tolerate” somewhat but it is so hard to concentrate and I feel like my head is not on my shoulders. I stopped takin any meds because they stopped working. The headache has gone full blown migraine 4 times each lasting 2 days and not my normal migraine either, this is a whole new animal of pain I have never delt with. The quieter it gets the louder the ringing is but the louder it gets teh faster I daze out and I have begun to not be able to write correctly and have been tripping over my words. It’s miserable I am worn out and hope the ortho can do something. I feel for you and hope it gets better i can’t say it does as i am on the mend myself but people really need to pay attention. Driving is a privilege and should not be done while distracted!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    Being in chronic head and neck pain for 16 years from a fall is similar, though obviously not exactly, to a car accident. I mean this in the sense that whiplash plays a part and the residual pain the ensues.

    I am writing this with my TEN unit on my upper shoulders and lower cervical area because the pain was getting to be too much today. In my particular situation, I’m sorry to say, my fall and whiplash injury has made my migraines much more difficult to treat. So, yes, my migraines did get worse.

    You may want to look into PT to see if there is anything you can do exercise way to help with your neck……

    Massage is another option I’ve found helpful…..

    Lots of comfort measures……

    Nancy

  • minddoctor
    6 years ago

    Hey Migraine Girl, I did a search for migraines and car accidents on this site and your entry was the only one I came across. I NEVER suffered from migraines or really any type of headaches my entire life… until at age 38, when I was driving 55mph down to the ocean for a swim and was t-boned by a guy with full blown dementia driving a truck. He didn’t see me and claimed to not even know where he was or that he was even driving. I did not hit my head or lose consciousness, but I fishtailed violently six times before coming to an abrupt stop, and the whiplash was severe. Over 1/2 of my car was destroyed, and I had immediate neck pain and went to the ER – they initially thought I had broken my neck, but after x-rays and CT scans, MRI’s, etc, they told me I had degenerative disk disease and was missing a disk in the middle part of my neck, and that the whiplash wasn’t helping matters. Two days later I was with a friend who thought I was acting weird, so I went to my PCP and he diagnosed me with post-concussion syndrome. For over 6 months, I was getting lost in my own home, had to stop driving as I was getting disoriented in my own neighborhood,forgetting hour long conversations, etc. etc. My mother had to fly from Boston to California to take care of me as my husband was working so much. Within a week of the accident I started having severe migraines and tension headaches, 3-4 days a week on average, sometimes up to 10 consecutive days, and that has continued for nearly 2 years now. The MRI showed brain lesions, but docs were unclear if this was from the accident or normal for my age. I do have a significant family history of migraines: a maternal grandfather with chronic migraine,many others with occasional migraines, and my younger brother actually went into a coma as a child from a migraine.

    I have been lucky enough to be working with Dr. Cowan at Stanford – he tells me that I’m coping with something called “post-traumatic migraines”. They SUCK. I’ve had to redefine what a 10 actually means to me on the pain scale. They are so frequent and debilitating that I have not been able to return to my profession as a psychologist. I also still suffer from cognitive deficits. I’ve gone through a range of treatments – rescue meds at first, but I always manage to immediately throw up right after taking them. Then we moved on to beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, which both helped, but they actually crashed my vital signs well before I reached therapeutic levels. I just did my third trial of Botox, which has maybe helped a bit, but I’m still completely dysfunctional. Most recently my neck was in spasm and I took Flexoril, a muscle relaxer, for two weeks – NO HEADAHES! I was so excited that I had perhaps found my cure, only to be told that this medication can only be used for 2-3 weeks for risk of liver failure. I got off the med and wham, migraines are back. This is so completely frustrating and makes me depressed – I’ve lost my ability to work, travel, socialize, go out in the sun, exercise regularly, etc. The losses are too many to count. I can barely comprehend how people have survived with this condition for decades.

  • Migrainemonologues
    7 years ago

    This is exactly how my migraine journey started 13 years ago, hit from behind at a roundabout – the night before my A-Levels exams which in the UK is the equivalent of SATS, I was incredibly shaken up, and the next morning couldn’t remember how to spell words such as ‘the’ or ‘about’ and needless to say couldn’t move my neck or head. Recently, 13 years later a SPECT CT scan shows I suffered a minor spine fracture and because no one took me seriously at the time I tried to carry on as normally, I got my first migraine a week later, migraine associated vertigo became a huge issue for me etc as did frequent neck spasm and you know the rest of my story as I now blog about it! But please tell me you’re seeing a good physio or chiropractor. My GP just dismissed it as simple whiplash, whiplash is too often just dismissed as fraudsters sadly take lawsuits up but it can be a very painful condition. But from my experience and others I know it can GREATLY impact migraines. Everyone is different, but being hit from behind can result in Post Traumatic Headaches – whiplash could, I guess if not treated properly lead to Radiculopathy damage, for example and Ceviocgenic Headaches…to be dramatic. A lot of people with migraines can often pin point some kind of trauma like this as a starting point, or a as something that greatly aggravated their condition.

    Realise this sounds very depressing! I’m trying Prolotherapy at the moment, with Occiptial Nerve Block, Physio therapy and Topamax and doing great. Treating the neck muscles and posture is having a huge impact. Sorry to rant so much but this is an issue close to my heart!. Really hope you’re doing well! x

  • mev
    7 years ago

    Been there, done that — twice! The first time was more severe; I discovered that whiplash is very real. Thinking back to that accident, I just realized that my migraines began occurring more frequently around that time. Hmm.
    The second incident was a few years ago. Not as bad, much like yours, I was waiting to turn left and a guy paying more attention to a banana peal than the road hit me. The impact was mild, but I knew what was coming. The headache started and I managed to slog through several days before I went to see a friend who does cranial sacral therapy. The headache eased immediately. A couple more sessions and I was back to normal. I highly recommend it.

  • marlenerossman
    7 years ago

    Although I had been getting migraines for many years, they would come and go. I would have some bad spells and then none for a while.

    However, two years ago, I had some stomach trouble. After XRays and CT scans, I got a call on Friday at 5pm from the University of California medical center (where I went for the tests)by a woman whose first language was NOT English. She said, “you have spot on lung, you go see pulmonology.” I had been in my car at the time and when I heard that, I lost control of my car and slammed into a bus pole. Over-reacting? I don’t think so. I am a TWO TIME (now healthy) cancer survivor.

    I did not think I was hurt, save for some minor air bag burns. And it turned out that the “spot on lung” was a benign one. However, my migraines began to ramp up to daily agony. In these past two years, I have aged 10 years. I have seen ten doctors–neurologists, migraine specialists, pain management doctors, etc etc. I have tried twelve different medications and had three Radiofrequency Ablations of my C2,C3 and C4. I have had lidocaine to the head and 15 shots of botox to the head–all to no avail.

    The only thing that works are the abortives–triptans. Now, in addition to Imitrex pill, nasal spray and meltables, I take Sumavel injections, which is basically a taser-like injectible of triptan. It is extraordinarily painful, but it kills the migraine in about 20 minutes. I have taken way too many meds and my life will never be the same as before the accident. Out of two years, I have lost an entire year being sick, day after day with migraine. And there is no hope in sight…

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Janet,

    Sumavel DosePro is the injection form of Imitrex. You can read about Sumavel DosePro in this link; http://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/sumavel/.

    Nancy

  • Janet
    7 years ago

    I have never heard of sumavel…can you enlighten me please…your background sounds like mine…bedridden and aged far beyond my years…sadly I notice it in photo albums when I am too sick to do anything else, it cheers me up to view family photos….

  • kimmcclive-reed
    7 years ago

    I’m so sorry to hear about your accident and all the others suffered by the previous commentators. I was in an accident almost identical to yours about 4 years ago. I was sitting in stopped traffic in the 2nd right lane of an interstate (rush hour) and a woman coming off the entrance ramp behind me apparently didn’t notice the 2 completely stationary, full lanes right in front of her. Luckily I saw her headlights coming up in my rearview mirror and thought “Too fast! She’s not stopping!” I had time to turn my wheels hard to the left (so I wouldn’t domino all the stopped cars ahead of me) and fold my arms up over my face.

    I was SO lucky–she knocked me right into the moving left-hand lanes, but everyone managed to swerve and miss me. But of course, my head and arms still bounced off the steering wheel and then my head slammed into the back of the seat. I thought at first something in the car hit me in the back of the head–but it was just the seat back! I don’t know how fast she was going, but she was accelerating (not slowing), and everything “popped” out of the dash (radio, ashtray–even the locked glove compartment flew open). I only avoided being “punched” by the airbag because my old Volvo 240 didn’t have one (it was totalled, by the way).

    And I reacted just like you. I was slightly dazed and loopy, but compared to the woman who hit me, I was Einstein. She got out of her car and was wandering in the road. So I pulled her off onto the shoulder while we waited for the police. We both refused an ambulance (which I thought was lunacy on her part–I still wonder if she was drinking or something, but the police didn’t arrest her).

    I had been involved in one previous accident and experienced whiplash that time–so I wasn’t surprised when the neck and back pain hit me within 2-3 hours. I just didn’t want to spend a bunch of time in the ER only to be told to take ibuprofen and use alternating heat/cold packs AGAIN. Again, like you, neck pain and stiffness are migraine triggers for me. So I dosed on 600 mgs of ibuprofen before it even started to hurt, and stayed down with a heating pad under my neck that evening.

    I did have more migraines for a while, several months really, since it took the muscles a while to completely heal (and if I accidentally turned my head too fast to the left, one particular muscle would “pop” and swell up all over again!) But it did finally heal completely.

    You were smart to see a doc, ER or otherwise, in case of concussion (which it sounds like you avoided), but you don’t say if they gave you any kind of Rx painkiller or muscle relaxant. Although many docs are reluctant to hand out narcotics the way they used to for accident-related pain :), if you didn’t get a muscle relaxant (at least for nighttime), you might want to ask your primary for one. The first time I had whiplash, it was much worse than this 2nd accident, and I was given Zanaflex. Good luck, and feel better soon!

  • Janet
    7 years ago

    I forgot to mention that I found a massage therapist who can loosen the tightness in my neck that goes straight to my skull. Between my NUCCA doc and Kim…I have some relief while I am there and sometimes into the evening. Undoubtedly the head pain comes…but a1 hour or 2 is better than none.I don’t know what it feels like not to have neck pain as I was in a car accident just like yours and mine …but also hit from behind while I was sitting still at a red light at 35 mph in 2006…the most recent the teenager was going at least 40mph…massages are pricey ..but my husband has lived with me and my migraines for 32 years..I am thankful and grateful that he will try anything that we think could help.
    Janet Jones

  • Janet
    7 years ago

    Sorry to hear about your car accident migraine girl. What I can share is that having been in an accident much like the one you were in 2 months ago, I am still experiencing the pain you are in. Whiplash will be your friend pretty much forever. The back spasms are most likely caused by a pinched nerve. I also suffered a pinched nerve in my left shoulder somewhere that affects my left arm, hand, and left leg. At any time I can have tingling, numbness and jabbing pain. My back ..I get those spasms that come from nowhere and shoot through you and the tears come before you realize it. I truly wish I could say something encouraging. The migraines have intensified which I didn’t believe was possible. This whole ordeal has affected my entire nervous system where doctors thought I had lupus. I have been diagnosed with auto immune nerve disorder which sounds scary but is basically as the doc put it, ” your nerves are going berserk.”. He gave a good analogy. Because we are the same age he said, “”remember the old black and white tv’s that had the antenna on them (rabbit ears) and how you had to get them just right to see a picture clear of the “snow”….well in your case we can move those rabbit ears all over the top of the tv and maybe even need to put foil around the tips and finally get a picture,” he said because of then pinched nerves, no sleep since my hospital stay back in march for DHE that was a huge failure that I never got a chance to recoup from and the accident …all you can do is comfort yourself the best way I know how. Cool when cool feels good…since my nerves are involved I can’t stand clothes on or anything touching my skin. It has improved, but I went 33 days at home not wearing clothes because my skin itched so bad I thought I’d lose my mind. Turns out this is all nerve damage. I see a NUCCA chiropractor. I encourage you to find one in your area. I see him 4 days a week for adjustments to straighten my spine that completely flip flopped and curved to the opposite position it was in. I finally can walk on my feet without tears in my eyes. The migraines continue to come around 3am every night. I finally was given lunesta for sleep and klonopin for anxiety. It was determined that the lack of sleep finally means something to someone other than mean. I pray for you and pray that you will find the right medical help. Try NUCCA…I will see a new neurologist on August 6 just cuz I need more zomig and I’m going to ask for maxalt. I take zomig nightly since forever and have suffered for 36 years. The accident is the worse thing that could have happened to me and I fear that for you. My name is Janet Jones and my heart breaks for you. It’s lonely to be in chronic pain. Most people want to avoid us. Blessings and headings to you.

  • Elaine Gross
    7 years ago

    I was in an accident in 1989 that badly fractured my pelvis. I was lucky to have survived. We were hit broadside right where I was seated, and I was lucky my boned didn’t displace, they just fractured & split through. The pain was unbelievable. They kept giving me shots of morphine in my thighs. When I would start to come to I would hear this animal crying out and realize it was actually me then I’d feel the shot in my leg and blackness again. It was horrible. I don’t remember anything about my neck. I was hoping I would walk again. The pain was horrible for months. Lying down was extremely painful, so I couldn’t sleep. Sitting on a soft chair was very painful. I couldn’t bend over. I had to move back in with my parents at 38yrs old and they took care of me. Actually, they loved it. Me – not so much. Although, I do cherish the time spent with them, and gratitude for their care. But I’ve wondered if this accident affected my neck and was overlooked because of the traumatic injury to my pelvis. I just saw my neurologist and he has ordered therapy for my neck. I do have Dystonia, and arthritis. I was worried about MS because of the numbness, tremors, and other symptoms I’ve been having lately. But he thinks it’s the Mexilitine that he prescribed. So I’m getting weaned off that. He thinks I have a neck problem. He’s probably right. I’m sure it has as you say, a lot to do with migraines. The back of neck hurts with every one I get. What comes first – the chicken, or the egg? Who knows.

  • Misstah
    7 years ago

    Aww bless, its not a nice experience. I suffer from chronic migraines and was involved in a accident a couple of weeks ago, my poor car is now written off! Everyday since I have affected by migraines, I normally get a day or 2 with a break but I havent done since the accident. The neck pain I think has been the trigger for me and the stabbing pain in my head from the whiplash.

  • janenez
    7 years ago

    I am so sorry to hear of your accident. I had a similar accident 3 years ago. Unfortunately I didn’t go to the doctor – I thought all was fine because I was just a little sore. Here is the issue for me – I think I am so used to pain and it’s sometimes sporadic manifestations (sometimes back, sometimes neck, etc.) that it takes time to sort out what is new pain. My doctor tells me I have an incredibly high pain tolerance from living with migraines forever. (I bet you do too!) It took awhile, but I did finally identify new back pain from the accident. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any kind of settlement or care paid through the insurance because I had told them I was fine. Now it has just added itself to my list – and yes, it is a migraine trigger. The specific pain from the accident is kind of strange. It only happens when I sit on the edge of the bed and lean down to tie my shoes. Back spasms start immediately, I can’t stand up straight and within an hour a migraine. Since I’ve tied my shoes for years that way – I really have to be intentional about remembering to kneel down to tie my shoes. It’s really weird – but I know it’s from the accident.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    7 years ago

    Oh Janet – I’m so sorry to hear about your accident! I’m also so very glad you escaped serious outward injury.

    Yes, I’ve suffered repeated concussions and a whiplash type injury or two. My father to this day swears that it was after a serious bike accident as a kid that my health started going wonky.

    Despite my fairly serious past injuries, my doctors have always told me that they didn’t play a role in my Migraine issues. As we learn more and more about closed head injuries, I begin to wonder however. I can’t pinpoint anything immediately getting worse after these injuries aside from the obvious short term head pain, but I have read many things that seem to point to blood brain barrier issues with the mildest of trauma. In fact, while in the headache conference in LA this year, it was brought up repeatedly that it seems to be the mildest injuries that cause the most trouble for Migraineurs and those with chronic daily headache.

    All good food for thought. Can’t wait until we learn even more about this subject!

  • patriciaengle
    7 years ago

    I have suffered from migraine’s since I was 3 years. In 1996 we were on our way back from a family vacation in Florida. We were hit in the behind like you but we were moving. Our speed was around 45 and his was 75 I received a broken neck . Everyone else was okay a little cut up but alright we all had our seat belts on. After that my migraines were so severe that I would black out from them. I lose my vision, my sense to feel, numbness on either side of body and my memory. Yes wrecks can make your headaches worse. Patricia Engle

  • Elaine Gross
    7 years ago

    Oh Patricia, that’s so dreadful. I feel so for you having suffered such a brutal crash, and such a serious injury that has impacted your life.

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