You may have heard that whiplash is the most common car accident injury, but do you know what it feels like? Whiplash is tricky to identify because it can affect your head, neck, upper back, and even cause symptoms in your arms and hands. When you’re in a car accident, your seat belt holds your upper body in place and helps prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle. However, there isn’t a safety feature available that can keep your head and neck from getting jostled around. That’s why treatment with a whiplash chiropractor is so beneficial to your recovery process.
If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s worth getting checked out by a whiplash chiropractor who has experience in treating lots of car accident injuries. The symptoms of whiplash can vary from person to person and can show up at different times in the aftermath of the accident. Your doctor may be able to diagnose a whiplash injury before you even begin experiencing all of the signs and symptoms.
Here is what you might feel in the hours, days, and weeks after a car accident with a whiplash injury.
Immediately After the Accident
Many people don’t recognize any signs or symptoms immediately after the accident because your body is full of adrenaline and the shock of the experience is masking your pain symptoms. It might take a few hours for the first signs to set in that something is wrong. The first thing you might notice is a headache after an accident, which could be a symptom of any number of injuries and even a stress response to the accident.
You may also start to notice neck pain, kind of like how your muscles might feel right after a hard workout. If paramedics are called to the scene of the accident, you should always accept an evaluation and get checked out – remember, the shock and stress of the accident may prevent you from noticing your injuries.
In the Days After the Accident
If you experience headaches after the accident, they may get worse with time or feel like they’re just not going away no matter what you try. While headaches alone aren’t going to determine if you have suffered a whiplash injury, it is an indicator that something isn’t quite right. The soreness and stiffness will start to settle in during the days after a car accident. When whiplash occurs, your head and neck are violently flung forward and backward, which often stretches your neck muscles out of their normal range of motion. When this happens, it can cause muscle strains and tears that make moving your head and neck painful.
You may notice your neck feels warm and tender to the touch and find that you have trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position. Eventually, those sore muscles can turn into stiffness that limits your mobility and range of motion, so turning your head from side to side or up and down may feel impossible.
Depending on when you seek treatment for your car accident injury symptoms, some of your whiplash symptoms may continue to arise during treatment. Whiplash can put pressure and stress on the spine in your neck and cause issues like herniated discs and pinched nerves. You may start to experience tingling, numbness, and nerve pain starts in the spine in your neck, called your cervical spine, and radiates through your shoulders and into your arms all the way to your fingertips. The pain can feel like a shooting, stabbing pain that goes off sporadically with certain movements, or you might feel a dull, throbbing.
It is natural to shy away from certain movements that make the pain worse, but this can actually cause your muscles to weaken and lead to more stiff muscles and pain. During the treatment process, your whiplash chiropractor will walk you through stretches and exercises that promote healthy neck movements and encourage healthy blood flow and nutrients to the area. Stretches and exercises can also help restore the range of motion in your neck that was temporarily decreased due to the whiplash injury.
If you have recently been injured in a car accident and are feeling any of these headaches, sore and stiff neck muscles, and decreased neck movement, then visit a whiplash chiropractor near you and get started on treatment. AICA Orthopedics in Jonesboro has whiplash chiropractors near you that can help!