The most common car accident injury with rear-end collisions is whiplash. A whiplash injury can affect your quality of life because of the pain and discomfort you can experience in your neck, upper back, and shoulders. The sooner you visit a doctor after a car accident, the sooner you can get started on treatment for whiplash. However, you might not recognize you have an injury right after a car accident. The shock and adrenaline you experience directly after this type of traumatic event can actually mask certain pain symptoms and keep you from fully recognizing any damage to your body. That’s why you should get checked out by a doctor who specializes in car accident injuries even if you maybe only feel a little bit sore or have a headache.
How Delayed Symptoms Can Affect You
One of the risks of not seeing a doctor right away is that you might end up delaying treatment for an injury you don’t know you have. Delayed symptoms with car accident injuries are unfortunate but common, and a car accident doctor can help. In the hours and days after the accident, you may start to experience more symptoms. You might be tempted to wait it out and hope the pain goes away, but this can actually lead to negative long-term health consequences. Here’s what you need to know about whiplash so you can avoid experiencing pain for months or even years after the car accident.
Whiplash Symptoms after a Car Accident
Whiplash comes with a wide variety of symptoms that don’t always show up right away. Each person can also experience a whiplash injury differently, so some people may not always have the same symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and muscle stiffness. A whiplash injury occurs when the force of impact causes your head and neck to jerk violently forward and backward. This can cause the muscles in your neck to stretch out of their usual range of motion and lead to muscle strains or even tears. It can also cause damage to your spine and even increase your chances of spinal misalignment or a herniated disc.
Soreness and stiffness in your neck after a whiplash injury are common because of this muscle damage. You may start to notice that turning your head in certain directions is more painful. You may also not be able to turn your head in certain directions as the pain and stiffness set in. Many people with whiplash have difficulty with full neck movements like they would normally. Headaches are also common with a whiplash injury. Pain can occur in the upper back and shoulders too, especially if the whiplash injury caused any damage or pressure on nerve endings. If you start to experience pain and discomfort in your head, neck, and back after a car accident, then visit a doctor as soon as possible.
Diagnosing and Treating Whiplash
In order to diagnose a whiplash injury, your doctor will want to perform a physical examination of the affected area. This may include an assessment of your spine and the mobility in your neck, back, and shoulders. While there isn’t one specific test or scan to diagnose whiplash, your doctor may want to run a diagnostic imaging scan like an X-ray or CT scan to rule out other injuries as well. These types of medical imaging scans can also provide your doctor with more information about how your body was damaged during the car accident and what specifically is causing you pain. The diagnosis will inform your individualized treatment plan that will address both your whiplash symptoms and their underlying cause.
Length of Treatment and Recovery from Whiplash
The length of your treatment will depend on the severity of your injuries and how they are impacting your strength and mobility. The time it will take you to recover may also be affected by how quickly you were able to get an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment. Your doctor will talk to you about a specific timeline for your treatment and what to expect during the healing process. People who experience pain from a whiplash injury for years afterward may not have received quality care in a timely manner after a car accident. The best way to avoid this is to get started on treatment for whiplash with your College Park chiropractor right away!