Being in an automobile accident can be a very traumatic experience. While the advanced safety features in today’s cars do a great deal to prevent fatalities, you can still sustain injuries. Whiplash is very common and is caused when the head and neck are forcefully propelled forwards, backwards or sideways. When this sudden force is applied to the neck and back, it generates microscopic tears within the fibers of muscles and ligaments. Inflammation gathers in the soft tissue, stimulating pain fibers, causing that sore feeling.
It’s easy to come out of an accident intact and think that whiplash will not be a problem for you. While it may be the case, as you are monitoring your condition immediately following your accident, here are three major mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
Mistake #1: Believing You Will Have No Pain
You may start out after an accident feeling stiff and sore, wondering whether you will ever fully recover and be able to return to your normal activities. For some, though, the adrenaline released by the body just after the accident blocks all or some of the pain. It also takes a while for the inflammation to build up in the tissue. In so many cases, people don’t believe they have any pain – until hours or even days after their accident, when they start feeling it. Monitor your body very carefully in the hours after an accident – and get treatment as soon as pain symptoms crop up so you can be on the path to recovery faster.
Mistake #2: Ignoring the Symptoms
You may think that your pain is minor and doesn’t warrant seeing a medical professional. But ignoring the symptoms of whiplash (neck pain and stiffness, loss of range of motion in the neck, headaches, and tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back and arms) or just covering up the pain with medication without any type of therapy can oftentimes lead to greater issues down the road, such as:
- Migraines or tension headaches
- Decreased mobility
- Chronic pain
- Degenerative changes in the spine
This is why it is important to get checked by a chiropractor after an accident – to fully heal and avoid any residual effects of the whiplash.
[Related: Why You Should Care About Neck Posture]
Mistake #3: Undertreating Your Condition
Finally, you may acknowledge your pain and do something about it…but it is not enough to give you true healing. For a typical accident, we find three types of therapy are needed:
- Chiropractic care to properly align the spine to reduce irritation within the nervous system
- Ultrasound and electric stimulation on the injured soft tissue to push out inflammation and reduce muscle spasm
- Gentle therapeutic exercise to strengthen and stretch injured postural muscles
Some of our patients also choose to add massage therapy to their treatment plan. This is only when recommended by the doctor and after it no longer hurts to be touched, though. Typical recovery time for most accident-related musculoskeletal injuries can be anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks.
Word of Caution: You May Have Issues Beyond a Sprain or Strain
While most people only experience a mild to severe sprain or strain, some patients suffer from more complicated issues, such as concussion, torn ligaments or herniated discs. At Life Care Chiropractic and Wellness, we are prepared to examine, diagnose and treat all of these types of problems.
We hate that any of you go through the experience of a car accident, or any other cause of whiplash: rough roller coasters/amusement park rides, bumper cars, hits/collisions in sports, kids rough-housing and pushing from behind, pillow fights, turbulence on a plane, etc. And, above all, we want you to avoid the mistakes many people make when they have a case of whiplash. Know that we are here to help with everything from understanding how to set up a claim with your insurance company to treating your whiplash with a thorough medical approach.
We strive to make your entire experience as stress-free as possible. We understan that the accident itself has already been a traumatic episode. As always, give us a call if you have any questions – we are happy to help.