Auto accidents can lead to serious injuries – including short-term trauma and long-term spinal problems. There are so many variables involved with each vehicle accident. Sometimes, you feel symptoms immediately following the accident. In other cases, symptoms might not become apparent for weeks, months, or even years after the accident. Generally speaking, however, car accident victims will experience some common conditions and symptoms, including all of the following:
Over 90% of car accident victims will experience some type of neck pain. This pain can spread into the shoulders, between the shoulder blades, and into the head. Whiplash affects virtually all the tissues in your neck, including the muscles, ligaments, and nerves. It can also affect the facet joints and discs between your vertebrae.
Facet joint pain is the most common cause of neck pain after a car accident. Typically, you feel facet joint pain on the back of your neck, on either side of center. If you touch the back of your neck, you might notice that the region is tender to the touch. Damage doesn’t always show up on X-rays: only physical palpation of the area can lead to a facet joint pain diagnosis.
If you have chronic neck pain after whiplash, then it’s likely due to disc injury. Disc injuries occur when the bundles of fibers making up the outer wall of the disc – known as the anulus – become torn during whiplash trauma. This leads to the disc herniating or degenerating, causing irritation or compression of the nerves that run through the area, triggering pain that can radiate into the arms, shoulders, and upper back. This pain can also lead to muscle weakness.
A few weeks after your initial whiplash injury, most of your pain will continue to originate from damage to the muscles and ligaments in your neck and upper back. Over time, this can lead to stiffness and mobility issues. Even after the original pain goes away, you might still experience abnormal movement and instability.
Approximately 80% of car accident victims experience some type of headaches. Headaches can be the result of direct brain injury. However, most headaches are triggered by injured soft tissues. Muscles, ligaments, and facet joints in your cervical spine can become damaged, leading to pain in your head. A good Lakewood chiropractor can treat the supporting structures of your neck to avoid any headaches.
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ, is relatively uncommon following a car accident. However, it can be equally as debilitating as neck and head injuries. If you notice pain, clicking, and popping noises in your jaw when it’s moved after a car accident, then you might have TMJ. When left untreated, TMJ can worsen and cause headaches, facial pain, ear pain, and eating issues. Chiropractors are specially trained to handle TMJ cases. However, chiropractors might also refer you to a TMJ specialist.
Many patients experience mild to moderate brain injury after a car accident. When your brain is jolted around the skull – like when experiencing whiplash – it can lead to bruising or bleeding. Whiplash victims might temporarily lose consciousness or get a mild concussion. Common symptoms include mild confusion or disorientation immediately following the accident. Long-term symptoms can include mild confusion, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, irritability, forgetfulness, loss of sex drive, emotional instability, and depression. Certain types of brain injuries can also affect your senses of smell, taste, and sight.
You might experience dizziness after whiplash. Dizziness is usually temporary, and patients may be able to relieve dizziness symptoms by visiting a chiropractor. Dizziness after a car accident is typically caused by damage to the facet joints of the cervical spine. However, damage to the brain or brain stem can also lead to dizziness.
Low back pain
You may experience lower back pain after a car accident. Approximately 50% of whiplash victims will experience lower back pain. Lower back pain is particularly common for those involved in rear impact collisions or side impact collisions. The lower back will not typically experience the same extent of flexion-extension injury as the neck. However, it still experiences significant compression during the first two phases of the whiplash process.
Chiropractic care may be able to relieve symptoms of whiplash, getting you on the long-term path towards rehabilitation. Call 720-493-5885 for a free consultation from the leading chiropractor in Lakewood, Colorado.