Injuries from car accidents are far too common, with neck and back pain leading the list.
Neck pain is a common injury that results from car accidents since it can occur at speeds as slow as 5mph and can often cause debilitating movement.
Neck pain and stiffness can prevent people from performing work tasks or going about their daily routine, and if left untreated, neck pain can worsen to cause secondary conditions and complications–such as headaches, migraines, stilted movement, and even radiating back and shoulder pain.
The neck is especially susceptible to injury from car accidents, since the rapid stop of a vehicle colliding with another vehicle, slamming on the breaks to avoid an impact, or swerving out of the way all leave the neck vulnerable to damage, unlike most of the body which is strapped in place by a seatbelt.
Prevent delayed neck pain after a car accident from worsening or causing more serious issues by getting chiropractic treatment for your pain. There are many non-surgical and drug-free ways to treat neck injuries so that you can get back to a regular level of mobility and function.
Delayed Pain & Injury
Even if you feel alright immediately following a car accident, delayed neck pain is common and can worsen over time–especially if you have a muscle strain or sprain that isn’t allowed to heal.
Car accident injury symptoms are often delayed and can be missed by the victim, especially during the heat of the moment when dealing with the aftermath of an accident.
Many individuals find themselves in a state of shock, fueled by adrenaline and the preoccupation of dealing with police reports and statements, handling car insurance paperwork and investigations, and dealing with any life threatening or obvious injuries. While involved in such a hectic environment, many people may not realize the extent of their pain or injuries.
While you’re figuring out what to do after an auto accident, remember to take stock of your less immediate injuries, including any lingering pain or discomfort.
Additionally, while many injuries are obvious, such as broken bones, cuts, and bruises, others such as neck pain or discomfort may take more time to full present itself.
Since delayed neck pain after a car accident and other injuries are so common, any symptoms of whiplash or musculoskeletal injuries should not be ignored in the days to weeks following an accident.
Neck related injuries are extremely common in collisions, especially delayed neck pain after a car accident.
While some people might write an auto accident off as “just a fender-bender”, rear end collisions and neck pain are often linked, due to the way the head is jarred back and forth–causing damage to sensitive neck muscles, tendons, and upper spinal vertebra.
Neck pain can be the result of a variety of different injuries, but some of the most frequent injuries are whiplash, damage to the upper cervical spine, or muscle strain or sprain.
While a bit of residual pain and soreness is normal following an auto accident, neck pain and whiplash symptoms are some of the most ignored injuries. Neck trauma can wreak havoc on your life if left untreated.
Many patients go about their normal routine hoping that pain will decrease with time, allowing injuries to worsen and compound into debilitating conditions.
Whiplash, as the name suggests, is caused by the rapid back and forth movement of the neck and upper cervical spine.
This rapid movement usually occurs during a vehicle crash when there is a sudden impact with another vehicle, a sharp swerve or turn to avoid an impact, or other instantaneous, jerky movements.
The body is jolted during a car accident and the head continues to move even when the vehicle has stopped or moved in another direction.
A sudden vehicle impact that causes the head to whip in an unnatural, unexpected motion (whiplash) often tears the fine muscles in the neck and upper back and may also result in dislocations or herniation of the upper cervical spine. Whiplash injuries can cause ligaments, tendons, and muscles to stretch and tear.
Most people realize that they could have whiplash due pain or soreness in the neck or difficulty moving or turning their neck as they normally would.
Whiplash can be temporary, but if left untreated it can lead to other issues such as pain spreading to other areas of the neck, shoulders, and upper back. If you have neck pain from whiplash from a car accident that has worsened in the days to weeks after the initial accident, it’s likely that there is lingering damage to your neck, upper back, or cervical spine.
Whiplash Injuries & Conditions
Untreated whiplash is one of the most common causes of delayed neck pain after a car accident.
Whiplash can result in a sore neck, difficulty moving the neck and head, and other serious injuries, since inflammation and swelling in the neck, head, and upper back makes those areas very sensitive.
Additionally, severe whiplash can tear fine muscles in the neck or upper back, resulting in herniation or dislocation of the upper cervical spine. Such an injury can lead to misaligned spinal vertebra, pain or discomfort, numbness and tingling, and other complications.
Untreated whiplash has frequently been linked to chronic neck pain and discomfort, showcasing the importance of seeking treatment at any sign of neck pain. While someone with delayed neck pain after a car accident may not feel like their pain in that serious, it could pose a large health concern later in life.
Some of the more serious neck-related injuries from car accidents include:
- Chronic neck pain
- Vertigo headaches
- Mobility issues
- Vertebral misalignment
- Degenerative Disc Disease
One of the more serious neck injuries that can result from a car accident is vertebral injuries to the cervical spine. The body has an intervertebral disc between each vertebra of the spine, except for the first two vertebrae of the neck (the C1 atlas and C2 axis).
Whiplash and other neck injuries can cause the uppermost vertebrae in the neck to move out of proper spinal alignment. While most individuals do not suffer something as serious as a broken neck, their injuries can result in vertebral misalignment and complications.
Vertebral injuries limit an individual’s range of motion, cause pain, prohibit nerve signaling, and can even skew-normal posture.
The upper cervical spine which joins the skull and spine consists of the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae. Since the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae have the widest range of motion and are vulnerable to motion injury, misalignment of this two-upper vertebra can cause nerve signaling issues for communication from the brain to the body’s central nervous system.
In order to prevent further pain or injury, it is recommended that you get a diagnosis to confirm whiplash and any other resulting injuries and implement a treatment plan.
Visiting a licensed chiropractor to evaluate your delayed neck pain allows you to seek treatment for any serious injuries, and gain mobility and peace of mind.
Since serious spine injuries and degenerative diseases can take longer to appear after a vehicle accident, it’s important to catch any symptoms early through tests and imaging.
Debilitating spinal injuries can arise from untreated pain symptoms and lead to chronic pain and other issues. One such example is degenerative disc disease, which occurs when one or more of the discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column deteriorates or breaks down.
Even if there isn’t an obvious indication of a neck injury, a physical exam or a scan of the injured area will provide peace of mind and understanding of the cause of your pain. A doctor can offer peace of mind that eventually your body can recover, and you will experience less pain or even full functionality.
If you have experienced neck pain, discomfort, or mobility issues in the days to weeks following a car accident, make an appointment for a consultation with a local chiropractor.
Chiropractic Treatment For Neck Pain
Chiropractic care is one of the most effective treatments for delayed neck pain after a car accident. Chiropractors provide a thorough exam to determine the source of your pain, along with its cause, then create a customized treatment plan to help you recover naturally.
A patient’s individual treatment plan may consist of multiple integrated therapies for neck, shoulder, or even back pain, along with other symptoms of car accident injuries.
Although the chiropractic treatment will depend on the degree and location of neck pain and its cause, some of the most utilized treatments include chiropractic adjustments, rehabilitation exercises, spinal decompression therapy, massage therapy, bracing, and physical therapy mobilization techniques.
Chiropractic adjustments to the joins and spine work to ensure balance, stability, and order is returned to the body.
Chiropractic adjustments help increase blood and oxygen flow to all affected systems, which improves circulation, thereby improving the body’s ability to heal itself by reducing inflammation and swelling.
Each adjustment is done to improve the way the neck connect, responds, or communicated with another part of the body to ensure proper function and pain reduction.
Neck pain can often be attributed to spinal misalignment and damage to the top spinal vertebra. The goal of spinal decompression is to bring pain and pressure relief to the spine, especially in the case of degenerating, herniated, or bulging spinal discs.
Spinal decompression is achieved by using a specially designed traction table that realigns the spine. The device has a motorized tool that enables a chiropractor to gently stretch the spine and ensure there is enough space between vertebrae.
By creative negative pressure within the disc, the disc can reposition itself or, in the case of bulging or herniated discs, return to its natural position.
Massage therapy is often used to complement chiropractic care and other modes of treatment. A massage therapist specializes in relaxing sore muscles and soothing pain with varying motions and degrees of pressure depending on the area of the neck that is in pain and what other treatment the patient is receiving.
Massage therapy uses a variety of techniques, including trigger point massage to prepare tissue for joint mobilization and specialized massage roller beds. Since each patient’s condition is unique, so is the massage therapy that they receive.
Physical Therapy & Mobilization Techniques
Mobilization techniques are a part of physical therapy that foster movement in tissues and joints to relieve pain and prevent spasms.
Specific motions of the neck and surrounding tissue help stretch and strengthen the neck and injured area, breaking down any scar tissue and powering through any mobility restrictions such as a pulled ligament or strained muscle.
Neck mobilization techniques can help release tension and improve flexibility so many people recover from that “stiff neck” feeling that often results from car accident injuries.
RxWellness Spine & Health in Northern Virginia
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident in the northern Virginia area, don’t wait to get a neck injury evaluation. Contact RxWellness Spine & Health to make an appointment for delayed neck pain after a car accident.
Call RxWellness today at 703.904.9666, or visit us at one of our three northern Virginia offices in Herndon, VA; McLean, VA; and Arlington, VA. Our experienced team helps you recover fast and live pain-free.