Being involved in a car accident can cause a lot of physical trauma to your body, even if it didn’t cause that much damage to your vehicle. While you may be able to drive your car around until you get it fixed, you don’t want to keep going about life as usual if you’ve been injured in an accident. Oftentimes, people try to manage any pain and discomfort at home and hope it goes away in a few days. However, a car accident injury like whiplash can lead to chronic pain and other complications if you don’t receive appropriate and prompt treatment for whiplash. Life is busy and many people don’t want to slow down enough to heal from an injury, but sometimes going about your normal routines can actually do more harm than good with an injury like whiplash.
Whiplash symptoms can be tricky to recognize and diagnose because they don’t always appear right away. In fact, these hidden symptoms can take hours or even days for you to notice them. The shock and adrenaline of being in a car accident can mask your pain and other symptoms in the initial moments after a wreck. However, once you have a chance to relax, you might start to notice pain and discomfort setting in. Here are four main categories of whiplash symptoms and what they might feel like.
Neck pain is the most common whiplash symptom because of how the injury impacts the spine, muscles, tendons, and soft tissues in your neck. When your head snaps violently forward and backward due to a fender bender, you end up with a whiplash injury. This can lead to stiff, sore muscles in your neck. You may also experience spinal damage or a spinal disc injury. Many people experience neck pain with certain movements, like turning your head from side to side or up and down.
Back pain is also common with a whiplash injury because of how the force of impact affected your spine. The strain on your upper back muscles and your whole spine can lead to back pain. Many people experience sore, stiff muscles in their upper back. Your upper back may also feel tender to the touch.
Shoulder pain can occur due to a whiplash injury, especially when there has been any injury or pressure on certain nerves. It is possible for a spinal injury in your neck or upper back to put pressure on nearby nerves and disrupt their normal signals. This can lead to pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness into your extremities.
Headaches are common with any type of traumatic event like a car accident when your head and neck get jostled around. You may experience headaches that start low in the base of your neck or headaches that get worse with certain movements.
Treatment for Whiplash
Your car accident doctor will develop a plan of treatment for whiplash that addresses your specific symptoms and the source of your pain. Treatment may include gentle spinal adjustments that address any misalignments of your vertebrae after the accident. Your doctor may also recommend certain therapeutic at-home remedies like resting and applying ice to areas with inflammation and swelling. They may also recommend applying heat to sore, stiff muscles to help them relax and promote healthy blood flow. Part of your treatment will also involve addressing how your range of motion in your neck and upper back may have been impacted by the whiplash injury. This is when your doctor will talk to you about what movements to avoid while you heal and also what movements can help you in your recovery.
Exercising with Whiplash
When it comes to exercising with a whiplash injury, you want to talk to your doctor before you re-introduce any workouts or movements that may impact you. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help you learn stretches and exercises to promote the healing process. Therapeutic exercises will help encourage healthy blood flow to the area while you gently reintroduce certain motions and movements. Stretching can help soothe sore muscles and ease them back into movements that may have become stiff or uncomfortable. While you are healing from a whiplash injury, you should avoid any exercises or activities that are high-impact or contact sports.
Visit AICA Orthopedics in Jonesboro to get started on treatment for whiplash so you can get back to your regular routine in a safe and healthy way.