Whiplash is one of the most often seen conditions leading to back and neck pain after a car accident. This type of harm is due to damage caused by an exceedingly fast extension and flexion of the muscles and anatomical structures which support the head. When being hit by the car behind, a driver’s body is subject to an extreme force in the form of rapid acceleration, and then sudden deceleration. During an accident, there is only so far a body can move until it comes into contact with a door, seat belt, steering wheel, or dashboard. This violent jerking motion is what causes whiplash to occur.
In a split second, severe damage to the ligaments, vertebrae, nerves, and muscles of the neck and spine can occur. This damage is often difficult to diagnose and treat, as it can affect the nervous system, joints, muscles, facet joints and connective tissues of the neck, back and spine all at the same time.
Know the Symptoms of Whiplash
First, be aware that there may be a delay in the onset of pain. It is not uncommon for whiplash to set in 24 hours or more after the trauma. During the first couple of weeks, or longer, here are some things to watch out for regarding neck and back pain after an accident:
- A stiff neck
- Pain in the neck area
- Intense headaches
- Shoulder pain or pain in the middle of the shoulder blades
- Lower back discomfort
- Numbness of an arm, or hand
- Pain down the arm, or in the hand
- Feeling dizzy, having trouble concentrating or a “fuzzy” memory
- Feeling very tired, or the opposite – not sleeping well
In addition to whiplash, which primarily affects the neck, injury to the back can also be significant during car accidents. While an impact with the door, armrest, steering wheel, or even another person is harmful enough, it can also cause the body to twist unnaturally, compounding the damage of the contact itself. Some of the resulting back injuries could be a pinched nerve, bruising, a sprain or soft tissue damage. A herniated disc can bring symptoms like pinching, numbness, and tingling. A herniated or bulging disc can also trigger radiating, painful sensations throughout the body or weakness in the limbs.
Don’t Wait – Diagnose Neck and Back Pain After an Accident Early
It is important to be in tune and aware of any type of back and neck pain after a car accident and to see a qualified physician before the injury worsens. An MRI may even be necessary to aid in diagnosing whiplash or soft tissue damage. At Spinevue, great care is taken to accurately diagnose and treat neck and back pain that has been inflicted by car accidents. For a full evaluation, contact us today to find out how we can help you become pain-free again.