Car accidents are often scary and traumatic experiences.
They can be both physically and emotionally traumatizing.
In a related blog post, check out the common causes of car accidents.
Even if you don't feel injured after an accident, if there is damage to your car, there is often damage to your body.
Your neck muscles are a sensitive area of your body that can take the brunt force of a car accident.
Due to your neck being forced forward and then backward during a collision, accident victims often experience neck injury and pain.
If not addressed, neck pain and stiff necks will worsen over time and will likely cause chronic pain that will be difficult to deal with.
Whether it's a whiplash injury, a neck fracture, neck strain, neck sprain, or just severe neck pain, pain in the neck should not be ignored.
In the article below, we will discuss how to treat neck pain after a car accident.
Table Of Contents
- Common Neck Injuries After Accidents
- Symptoms of Neck Pain after a Car Accident
- Treat Neck Injuries At Home
- Check-In With A Chiropractor
- Visit Arrowhead Clinic
Common Neck Injuries After Accidents
There are several common types of neck injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents.
Here are the most common neck injuries sustained in auto accidents:
- Whiplash: A whiplash injury occurs when your head and neck jerk forward and backward suddenly and without warning. This sudden movement causes straining, tearing, and damage to the muscles, ligaments, nerves, and other connective tissues in your neck. Whiplash injuries occur most often in rear-end collisions. Symptoms of whiplash may present immediately after the accident, or it may take them hours or days until they present themselves. If treated immediately, whiplash will usually resolve within a few weeks. If left untreated, though, whiplash can cause chronic neck pain, long-term headaches, or memory issues for months or years after the accident.
- Soft tissue damage: An auto accident can tear, sprain, or strain the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the neck and spinal cord. Soft tissue damage can cause pain, tenderness, and stiffness in your neck and shoulders. A muscle strain in the neck can also cause a reduced range of motion in the neck and muscle spasms.
- Cuts and lacerations: During a car crash, glass, debris, or objects in your car may fly up and hit your neck, causing cuts, abrasions, scratches, and deep bruising. Deep cuts or lacerations can damage ligaments and tendons in the neck.
Symptoms of Neck Pain after a Car Accident
The most common injury sustained after a car accident is whiplash.
As we said earlier, whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly forced forwards and then backward, typically during a rear-end collision.
Whiplash symptoms sometimes appear right away, but it is not unusual for them to take hours or days to present themselves after accidents.
This is why it is always in your best interest to seek treatment as soon as you can after a car accident, no matter how you feel.
Seeing a doctor immediately is the best way to expedite the recovery process.
Whiplash symptoms include:
- limited range of motion
- stiffness or soreness of the neck
- pain and sensitivity in the upper back, arms, or shoulders
- blurred vision
- ringing in the ears
- sleep problems
- difficulty concentrating
Other severe neck injuries include herniated discs, pinched nerves, a neck fracture, or facet joint injuries.
These types of neck injuries can be excruciating and present similar symptoms to whiplash.
Treat Neck Injuries At Home
If you have a sore neck after a car accident, applying ice to the area helps reduce swelling and inflammation in the area.
If you ice your neck, remember to wrap the ice or ice pack in a light towel to avoid direct contact with your skin.
If you apply ice directly to your skin, it can cause a very uncomfortable burn.
After two days, you can swap the ice for heat.
Heat therapy works to loosen muscles and encourage blood flow with fresh oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissues.
As your muscles and other soft tissues fight inflammation, they may also become tense or stiff from overextension, over-stretching, and even tears.
When you apply heat to the injured area, it will help soothe the pain and warm up the muscles.
Your accident doctor may be able to recommend stretches that are gentle on your neck and spine.
Stretching is encouraged once the majority of your pain symptoms have subsided.
Very gentle, light stretching such as turning your neck from side to side or up and down may be recommended that will slowly encourage more range of motion.
If you experience any pain while stretching, stop right away.
Check-In With A Chiropractor
You should always seek medical care after suffering a neck injury.
There's no amount of stretches and at-home remedies that are better than medical treatment from an experienced accident doctor.
Neck pain is common either immediately following your crash or several days after the accident.
Even severe injuries can have delayed symptoms.
Many symptoms will disappear within 2 to 4 weeks, especially if you seek treatment.
If you decide not to seek treatment and your symptoms get worse, or you develop headache, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty swallowing, arm or hand numbness, you should visit a chiropractor.
A car accident chiropractor will perform a physical exam and a review of your medical history in order to make an accurate diagnosis.
If necessary, they can also order imaging tests like x-rays or MRIs.
Once a diagnosis is made, your chiropractor will design a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
And unlike other doctors, chiropractic care is all-natural and doesn't include the use of prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, or muscle relaxants.
Your chiropractor may recommend a cervical collar or neck braces, but they shouldn't be worn often because they can weaken your muscles.
Visit Arrowhead Clinic
If you were involved in an accident and you're suffering from neck pain, you should contact an experienced Chiropractor for treatment and pain relief.
Arrowhead Clinic has a team of chiropractors specializing in helping accident victims recover from neck pain and return to their everyday health and everyday lives.
Each patient that visits Arrowhead Clinic gets a free consultation to find out the source of your pain and design an appropriate treatment plan.
If you are ready to be rid of your neck pain after your motor vehicle accident, click below to schedule your initial free consultation and begin chiropractic care today!