Neck Pain After Car Accident: Causes, Treatment & What to Do
If you're feeling neck pain after a car accident, you've likely suffered a neck injury. Your next steps determine whether you'll find healing or live with chronic pain.
In this post, we'll cover:
- What causes neck pain after car accidents
- Other symptoms following a car accident
- How neck pain after car accidents is treated
- What you should do after an auto accident
- What you can do to treat your pain until you're examined
What Causes Neck Pain After Car Accidents?
If you're suffering from neck pain after a rear-end collision, there's a chance you're suffering from whiplash. Whiplash is caused by the rapid back and forth movement of your neck during a collision. It can affect muscles, nerves and discs.
Here are some of the injuries you might suffer as a result of a car accident:
- Slipped or herniated disc: This happens when the outer ring of the disc in your neck becomes weakened or torn, allowing the soft inner portion to slip out.
- Pinched nerve: This happens because excess force is applied to a nerve by supporting tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons.
- Neck fracture: A damaged vertebra in the neck can cause serious injury resulting in paralysis or death.
- Neck muscle injury: When one or more neck muscle or tendon fibers stretch too far and tear, a neck strain occurs. This injury, also known as a pulled muscle, can vary in severity depending on the tear's size and location.
When the force of a car collision is applied to your neck, these injuries can occur, as well as injuries to the soft tissue in your neck and back. Not finding out the root cause of your neck pain can lead to a lifetime of pain.
Other Symptoms with Neck Pain Following an Auto Accident
Here are some of the other symptoms you might experience because of a car accident neck injury:
- Limited range of motion, being unable to move your head
- Chronic pain
- Stiff neck with continual dull pain
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pain radiating to the shoulders and back
- Numbness or tingling in arms
- Blurred vision
How is Neck Pain After Car Accidents Treated?
We'll talk about ER treatment in a minute, but if you're still feeling neck pain after an auto accident, a chiropractor can give you long-term relief.
Here's how a chiropractor like Dr. Leach in Greenwood Village will treat you:
- Exam: Through imaging and other techniques, a chiropractor will find the underlying injury from your accident. Again, this is different than ER treatment, which is less likely to find your injury.
- Chiropractic Adjustment: Manual adjustments move your spine back into its proper alignment. The alignment of your spine may have been damaged in the car accident.
- Massage Therapy: Therapeutic massage helps release tension in the muscles in and around your neck, providing pain relief.
- Stretching & Exercise: A chiropractor may give you some stretches and exercises to do that will help relieve your pain.
Dr. Leach takes a holistic approach to every patient. He may recommend lifestyle or diet changes that will help relieve your neck pain. Treatment plans are unique for every patient. If you've suffered an injury like whiplash, chiropractic treatment will help your body heal faster.
A chiropractor will also let you know if your neck injury requires more serious treatment like surgery.
What Should You Do if You Have Neck Pain After a Car Accident?
This depends on when the accident was. If you're reading this immediately after an accident, you should be evaluated by an emergency room. An ER room staff will assess you for potentially serious injuries and perform some imaging. More importantly, you will legally protect yourself by being evaluated as soon as possible.
Emergency room staff will not, however, be able to identify some of the more subtle neck injuries that come from car accidents. That's where a chiropractor comes in. A chiropractor can identify injuries that may not be life-threatening but will cause you chronic pain.
Legally-speaking, visiting a chiropractor is important as well. If you go to court for your car accident, insurance companies will try to minimize your injuries so they can pay out less. If you've seen a chiropractor, you'll have a far better chance of explaining how a car accident injured your neck and is a hindrance to your daily life.
What to Do Prior to Treatment
To give you some comfort while you're waiting to see a chiropractor, here are a few things you can do:
- Apply ice to your neck for a few days following the car accident
- Then apply moist heat after any swelling goes away
- Take pain relievers like NSAIDs or acetaminophen
Contact a Chiropractor Near You
If you're in the Denver area and feeling neck pain following a vehicle accident, contact Dr. Leach at Greenwood Village Spine, Injury, and Chiropractic. He'll put you on the path to pain relief. If you aren't in the Denver area, use this link to find a chiropractor near you to seek treatment.
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