Car accidents can be a very scary and frustrating event. Not only do you now have to deal with emotional stress and getting your car fixed, but often there can be a lot of pain after a car accident. Pain or soreness after a car accident is very common and typically doesn’t even appear for days or weeks following the accident. When we are in a car accident there is a lot of excitement (not in a fun way) and adrenaline flowing. This means that you typically will think you “feel ok”, but it is very important to seek the attention of a health care professional that is trained to recognized the signs and symptoms of injury and is prepared to offer high quality treatment when necessary so you can get back to life.
What About Minor Accidents?
Did you know that the damage threshold for the cervical spine (neck) in a car accident is between 2-5 mph depending on the health and size of the individual in the accident? This means that even if there is no damage to the car you still may have significant injuries. Another important thing to remember is that most vehicles are equipped with special “crush points” that are designed to buckle in an accident. This actually dissipates the forces of the accident around the occupants. The problem is, with slow speed accidents these “crush points” do not buckle and the forces go through the occupants. Sure, your vehicle is ok, but you still may be significantly injured.
What Type of Pain Should I Look Out For?
Pain after a car accident can manifest in many ways. Most commonly I see patients with complaints of neck pain, headaches, upper back pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, hip pain, and even numbness and tingling in the arms or legs. Again, this pain may not present itself for days or even weeks, so it is important to work with a trained health care provider during this time. The source of the pain following a car accident can vary, but very commonly is coming from soft tissue injury. The forces that are exerted on your body during a motor vehicle accident are significant; so, our muscles, tendons, and ligaments become injured. These types of injuries can be very complex and healing time is very different than other sprain/strain injuries. One of the things I tell my patients is that the pain they are feeling will typically peak 48 to 72 hours following the car accident and then will fluctuate over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. In many cases full resolution of pain following a car accident can take months or even years.
What Should I do After I’ve Been in an Accident?
The most important thing to do following a car accident is seek the attention of a health care professional that has the experience and expertise to manage the complex nature of injuries following a car accident. Doctors of Chiropractic are uniquely equipped to manage injuries following a car accident. A highly trained chiropractor will be able to evaluate and diagnose your injuries, anticipate the progression of those injuries, and put together a coordinated care plan that should include chiropractic care, physiotherapy modalities, specific soft tissue treatments, massage therapy, and physical therapy.