What to do if You Experience Neck Pain After a Car Accident
Car accidents are scary and unexpected occurrences that can cause great and immediate stress.
So many logistical questions may arise in the moment that you may not take the time to focus on the most important factor of all — your own personal health.
Over 3 million people are injured in car accidents in the United States each year. It’s incredibly important to check your personal health after such an incident. Many individuals don’t realize the extent of their injuries until some time after the accident.
One of the more frequent results of an unexpected accident can be issues related to the neck and back.
If you’re experiencing neck pain after a car accident, it may be serious. Read on to understand what may cause neck pain after a car accident, and what to do about it.
Accidents & Whiplash
The physical force of a moving vehicle crashing into another object can cause everything in the vehicle to go flying.
Wearing a seatbelt during an accident can and probably has saved your life– but holding your body against this physical force often causes great strain on your neck and back.
In a car accident, your body goes through a rapid acceleration and deceleration within seconds.
This movement throws your head and neck forward and then back.
This quick, jerking motion on your neck has a name: whiplash.
Whiplash occurs when the soft tissues of your back and neck are forced to extend beyond their normal range of motion. Damage is done to your muscles, nerves, and sometimes your spinal cord.
In more serious cases, whiplash can be a cause of concussions or other serious medical issues.
Symptoms of whiplash can sometimes take days or weeks to manifest. It can be easy to assume you’re fine following an accident only to feel great pain days later.
This pain can sometimes last up to many weeks.
What Causes Neck Pain After A Car Accident?
It is essential to check on your physical health immediately and in the days following a car accident.
Neck pain after a car accident is the most common symptom of whiplash damage.
Over 90% of individuals reported neck pain as their primary complaint following whiplash trauma.
This neck pain is most frequently caused by issues with the facet joints. Facet joints are a part of the spine that supports the weight of the body.
Pain or damage to these joints can typically be felt on the back of the neck. Usually, pain will be tender to the touch and just off-center.
Unfortunately, damage to these joints cannot be found on X-Rays or MRIs. It will have to be diagnosed through physical examination of the area.
Whiplash trauma may also cause damage to the cushion-like discs that separate your vertebrae. Nerves surround these discs are very sensitive and be easily irritated.
Whiplash can cause tearing or pressure on these discs, which affects the nerves that surround them. This condition is called disc herniation.
Not only can herniation cause neck pain, it can often produce weakness in the arms and shoulder muscles.
Pain as a result of these issues can arise when a person is sitting or lying perfectly still, or when some kind of activity agitates affected areas.
It can be difficult to diagnose the precise cause of these pains. It’s important to visit a professional medical practitioner to help diagnose your problem.
Other Results of Whiplash
If you’re feeling neck pain after a car accident, you should keep an eye out for other signs of whiplash trauma.
Outside of neck pain, you may also experience strong headaches. These headaches may be frequent and stem from the base of your skull.
Dizziness, blurred vision, and constant weariness are other frequent symptoms of whiplash trauma.
Less common symptoms include irritability, issues sleeping, even tinnitus or vertigo.
Absolute worst case scenarios can include brain damage as a result of concussions.
If pain from your neck begins to spread to your shoulders or arms, you should contact a medical professional immediately.
Treating Neck Pain
Treatment of whiplash trauma is relatively simple. Many doctors will prescribe over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol or Aspirin.
Physical therapy and chiropractic care can be the most important treatment for neck pain after a car accident.
One of the best remedies is to apply hot and cold compresses to the neck area. A general recommendation is to do 15 minutes of hot or cold treatment every 2-3 hours. That being said, you should check with a physician about what specific treatment plan will work best for you.
Massages can be beneficial in loosening up stressed muscles and tissue. Practicing simple neck exercises can be helpful in the same way. Working out the tissue around your neck and back each day will slowly help to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Unless your case is especially serious, there should be no need for surgery or any large medical practices. There are medical services, such as electroshock therapy or trigger point injections, that can aid in your recovery if you choose to pursue them.
However, these processes will have the same overall effect as home remedies over time.
If you do visit a chiropractor, you should make sure to have your injury documented.
Having official documentation from a medical professional can be important in settling insurance claims or if you decide to take your accident case to court.
Pain after a car accident can last a long time regardless of treatment. You should be aware of the negative repercussions it can have on your daily life.
Taking Legal Action
Handling medical expenses following an accident can be stressful and overwhelming.
If you’re feeling strong neck pain after an accident, you may have reason to seek compensation for your time, pain, and expenses.
You’ll want to find an experienced attorney who understands whiplash trauma and the effect it can have on your life.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, Stephen Babcock can be there for you. Feel free to contact us or call Stephen any time at (225) 500-5000 if you need any assistance.