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What to Expect (Physically) After a Car Accident

Jul 28, 2020

Believe it or not, injuries sustained in a car accident might not be obvious to you right away. Instead, symptoms can take days or weeks to appear. Even when delayed, it is important to look out for these symptoms and know when to visit a College Park chiropractor to seek care. While injuries can vary based on the type and severity of the collision, there are common signs and symptoms to keep an eye on. Many issues will have similar symptoms, so it is always best to have them evaluated to see what may be causing your discomfort.

Headaches

headacheHeadaches are both one of the most common symptoms to appear after a car accident and one of the things most likely symptoms to be delayed. Many people will wake up the next morning with a headache, or even have them start days and weeks after the original accident. While common, headaches can occur for a variety of reasons, some more severe than others.

Because of the stressful nature of a car crash, some people will experience tension headaches for a period of time. Dealing with insurance, rental cars, mechanics, medical care, and any post-traumatic stress can contribute to headaches even where there is no underlying medical cause.

A headache can also be a sign of whiplash. While this common injury occurs in the muscles and tendons around the neck, the damage can cause headaches in many instances. The sudden jolt your body experiences during impact can cause the tendons to stretch or even tear, and that same jarring movement may affect your brain and cause headaches. If you also have symptoms such as pain in the shoulder or neck, loss of movement in these areas, or fatigue, whiplash is a possible cause. A College Park chiropractor will be able to diagnose whiplash and create a treatment plan.

When the body is jarred during whiplash, not only the neck and shoulders can be damaged. The brain can hit against your skull, or your head itself may hit a hard surface, causing a concussion. This is a mild form of traumatic brain injury and will almost always include a headache. Confusion or dizziness, along with mood and sleep changes, can also accompany a concussion.

Neck, Shoulder, and Back Pain

back neck shoulder painIn a car crash, your body is often moved in ways that are unnatural and at high speeds. This can lead to a number of injuries as your body reacts to the impact. Some people will suffer from simple tension and stress that ebbs over time, but these pains can also indicate more severe issues that need to be evaluated.

Nerve or tissue damage can be one culprit, as well as an injury to a muscle, joint, or tendon. Sprains and strains are common injuries that can cause these symptoms, but left untreated they will often develop into more serious conditions with lifelong impact.

Back issues can often begin with mild pain and become debilitating over time. Muscle tightness and bruising are common after a car accident and may cause general aches and back pains, but shooting pain down the spine or extremities may indicate pinched nerves. When this begins in the lower back and shoots down the leg, it is often related to sciatica.

All back injuries should be assessed by a chiropractor and treated to avoid any chronic issues over time.

Changes to Eating and Sleeping

changes sleep patternAfter an event like an accident, many people will experience emotional distress or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can impact daily necessities like your appetite or sleep patterns- some people will have an increased appetite, while some will have a decrease, and some people may sleep constantly while others will struggle. All of these can be signs of emotional distress following an accident.

However, there can also be physical reasons for these symptoms. A concussion or other head injury can affect sleep schedules, as can pain that makes it difficult to rest. An upset stomach that prevents eating well can also be a sign of internal damage.

Even when symptoms seem to be emotional in nature, a thorough physical evaluation can rule out any underlying causes.

Seeking Help

If you have recently experienced a car accident, you are at risk for a number of conditions and injuries and should be evaluated by experts. At AICA College Park, our team works to identify, prevent, and treat chronic pain, using a multidisciplinary approach. Our chiropractors will be able to assess your injuries and determine an effective and safe treatment plan to help you get back to full health.

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