The onset of pain resulting from a car accident can range from immediate to 2 weeks after the incident. Many people don’t seek treatment, hoping the discomfort will go away on its own and that they will start to feel better with time. This is the worst possible decision one could make. While in some rare cases the injured person may feel better on their own, the majority will suffer long-term complications, if not treated.
Delayed onset injuries are very common in low-speed impacts, but, did you know that whiplash can occur in as low as a 5mph collision? Automobile bumpers have a damage threshold of 5mph, at which point they tend to show no or minimal damage, while the force through the vehicle is multiplied by 2 ½ times by the time it reaches the occupant’s head. When looked at from this stand point, it is much easier to understand that the body has been through a trauma, even at a seemingly low speed.
One of the ways to visualize why someone has pain or spasm with this type of injury in the spine is that it is usually a sprain. Just like an ankle sprain, there is swelling and spasm; because the injury happens in such an important area, the body is wired to react strongly and be protective of this area. And, just like a sprained ankle, if it is not treated, sometimes it is never as functional as it was before the injury.
A chiropractic or medical doctor can evaluate you to let you know if the injury is mild, moderate or severe, as well as check for other common areas for injury in an auto accident, such as the shoulder, jaw or hip. After the examination, a treatment plan is discussed, such as: the types of massage for different stages of healing, the use of ultrasound, muscle stimulation and if manipulative therapy would be helpful.
When whiplash goes untreated, or when the injury is severe, some of the common symptoms are:
• Pain in the neck and/or shoulders
• Severe headaches
• Blurred vision
• Jaw pain
• Numbness/weakness in the limbs
• Concentration/memory problems
• Upper/lower back pain
• Difficulty sleeping
The better the injury is treated at the beginning, the faster the recovery period usually is. Consider having our chiropractor work with you to develop a plan for relief and recovery.