Auto accidents are, unfortunately, a common experience for most drivers. The National Safety Council estimates that there are more than 10 million car accidents in the U.S. each year. So even if you’re a careful driver, there’s still a high possibility that you could end up in a collision at some point. Collisions can result in a number of injuries, the most common of which is whiplash.
If you are experiencing symptoms of whiplash or related auto accident injuries, we at Premier Health Chiropractic and Wellness can help with your recovery process. Board-certified chiropractor Dr. H. Khayal and his team provide quality services to help our clients in the Dallas, Texas area get their bodies back to 100%.
Read on to find out what causes whiplash, why symptoms are often delayed following an auto accident, and what to do if you begin experiencing these symptoms.
What is Whiplash?
The term “whiplash” refers to pain resulting from soft tissue injury to the neck. Although it can occur after sports injuries or other traumas, it is also a common result of auto accidents, especially when the driver is rear-ended by another car.
Whiplash occurs when the spine and neck are thrown forward, then quickly backward, such as in the motion of a rear-end auto accident. This motion can injure the discs in the neck and spine, as well as ligaments and muscles in the neck.
The most common symptoms of whiplash are neck pain, headache, and stiffness. However, additional symptoms of whiplash can also include the following:
- Increased pain when you move your neck
- Limited range of motion in your neck
- Pain or tender feeling in the shoulders or upper back
- Tingling in your arms
When Does Whiplash Appear, and Why Is It Often Delayed?
The symptoms listed above usually begin within 24 hours after an accident. Soft tissue tends to feel bruised or tender due to injury relatively quickly.
After an auto accident, however, there are other signs of whiplash that may take longer to become noticeable. These include:
- Memory loss
- Ringing in the ears (also called tinnitus)
- Concentration issues
- Blurred vision
Nearly one-third of people in the U.S. continue to experience neck pain well after the initial auto accident. According to research, some factors make it more likely for individuals to continue having persistent neck pain.
These factors do not have much to do with the severity of the actual accident itself. Rather, the factors that make long-term pain more likely include the individual’s health prior to the accident, any physical pain or injuries present before the accident, and the level of psychological distress resulting from the accident.
How is Whiplash Treated?
For most people, whiplash can be treated with heat packs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, and a cervical collar to keep the neck in a stable position in the first few days.
Some people with whiplash may also be given physical therapy exercises to improve their range of motion and aid with recovery. Your chiropractor may also prescribe vibration therapy, additional exercises, and the use of ice packs at home.
Although it is important to keep the neck stable in the days immediately following the accident, it is also essential to remain physically active after that period. Staying immobile can make the recovery from a collision more prolonged and difficult.
When Does Whiplash Go Away?
For the majority of people, whiplash goes away within a few weeks. However, for those who have more persistent neck pain, symptoms can last anywhere from several months to over a year.
If you are experiencing long-term pain after an auto accident, try seeking out professional care. Our team at Premier Health Chiro + Med is well-versed in treating these types of injuries. You can give us a call or visit our website for more information about how chiropractic treatment can help you recover from your auto accident injuries.