What Are The Long
Whiplash is a soft tissue neck injury that will often occur in a Car Accident when the victim’s head is suddenly jolted backward and forwards.
Many people who are involved in an auto accident will suffer from a whiplash injury.
These injuries can range from mild to severe, however, when they are not properly diagnosed or treated, the results can be long-term with consequences such as disability and significant medical expenses.
In this blog, we take a look at the different long-term effects that whiplash can have on your body and mind, and why it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident.
Can Whiplash Cause Other Problems
Untreated whiplash poses an increased risk for chronic neck pain and soreness, long after the injury or car accident occurs. Torn or stressed neck muscles and ligaments require careful treatment and take time to repair correctly.
Over-exerting these muscles and ligaments can make matters worse, causing pain, soreness, and difficulty performing regular tasks or movements.
While most whiplash injury patients see improvement in their condition within several weeks or months of the injury, for those that do not seek treatment, chronic pain and discomfort can persist for several months and even years after sustaining the injury.
Pain and stiffness from whiplash or a neck injury may cause loss of mobility that prevents you from being able to perform your work duties or common daily tasks.
Inflammation and swelling in the neck, upper back, and head muscles, which may make it very difficult to move those sensitive areas or fully turn or crane the neck or head.
If left untreated, neck pain can progress and cause secondary conditions such as headaches, migraines, and shoulder pain that radiates into other areas of the body.
Chiropractors and physical therapists provide integrated therapies for shoulder and neck symptoms of whiplash from car accidents and other injuries, such as chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, rehabilitation exercises, and more options depending on the degree and location of the pain.
Is Mid Back Pain Common Following A Car Collision
Not only is mid back pain common following an automobile collision , but the intensity of mid back pain is higher in more severe mid back pain cases, according to a review of 38 studies that included over 50,000 mid back pain patients. Additionally, patients with mid back pain have increased muscle activity in the neck and mid-back/scapular muscles, are at an increased risk of pinching the nerves that innervate the arm at both the neck and shoulder, are more likely to have myofascial pain and trigger points in the neck and mid-back muscles, have altered mid-back posture, and have reduced thoracic spine mobility, among other things.
It does not matter if the injury is limited to the cervical spine the mid-back does not get a get out of whiplash injury pass. During cervical flexion and rotation, the thoracic spine can contribute up to 33 percent and 21 percent of the total head-neck movement, respectively, depending on the motion. If neck mobility is compromised, the thoracic spine is forced to bear a greater share of the load, increasing the likelihood of overuse and injury.
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Causes Of Whiplash Back Pain
The head is a heavy structure which acts as a weight during a whiplash event. The neck is the weakest and thinnest area of the spine, yet it must still support the considerable burden of the head. Normally, with the range of cervical motion precisely controlled by the muscles, ligaments and bones of the neck, there is no problem supporting the head. However, when force and acceleration is applied to the head during a traumatic event, the neck can stretch well beyond its normal safe and comfortable limits, creating whiplash neck pain.
Damage to the cervical region is expected, but the injury can radiate into the upper back and shoulder region if the force is particularly great. Radiating pain in the thoracic spine is the most common expression of whiplash in the back. However, some patients will have similar expressions in the middle or even lower back regions, as well or instead. Symptomatic activity consisting of pain in between the shoulders is also widely reported by affected patients.
Back Sprains And Strains
With a back strain, your soft tissue stretches too much, causing damage. A strain relates to tendons in your back, which connect bones to muscles. In contrast, a back sprain damages the ligaments connecting joints to bones or bones to other bones.
Both sprains and strains can cause annoying pain thats difficult to eliminate. Since imaging doesnt pick up this type of damage, its necessary to discuss the possibility with an experienced physician.
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Explaining Sciatica The Common Cause Of Low Back Pain
Sciatica is one of the main reasons for low back pain. Sciatica occurs when theres a problem in the sciatic nerve, the largest and longest nerve in the body. The nerve runs from the lower back, through the hips and buttocks, and then down the back of the legs. Sciatica often affects only one side of the body.
Sciatica can be due to very tense muscles, the narrowing of the spinal column, a herniated disc, a bone spur on the spine, or other such causes. These things result in compression of the nerve, further leading to numbness, inflammation, and pain in the affected leg. In severe cases of sciatica, there is also disruption in bowel and bladder function. If you experience this, you should see a doctor immediately.
Can Whiplash Result In A Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms + Treatment Options
When you think of getting whiplash, the first image that likely comes to your mind is someones neck being slammed back and forth quickly in a vehicle accident. Statistics show that over 1 million people suffer from whiplash annually, and most of those cases are from automobile accidents. Some of the other ways that this can happen include work injuries, sports injuries or any other occasions where the neck snaps around violently.
What most people dont think of is the lasting effects associated with whiplash. For a lot of individuals, the injury will heal and the patient will fully recover in about three months. For others though, there is the potential for it to turn into a chronic problem that will be felt for the rest of their lives.
The neck is also the cervical spine, which makes it part of the spinal cord. So, the question is, if someone suffers from a whiplash injury, can he or she also be dealing with a spinal cord injury as a result?
In short, the answer is yes. Find out more details about the relationship between whiplash and spinal cord injuries along with various treatment options.
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What To Do Next
You should always see a doctor after a car accident, even if you dont feel any pain at the time. Some injuries like whiplash or soft tissue injuries may not present symptoms until hours or days after the initial accident. Be proactive and seek medical care early to ensure that untreated back pain now doesnt lead to chronic pain and disability in the future.
Your primary care physician isnt the best choice of provider after a car crash. While your PCP is an amazing physician for internal health conditions, he or she probably doesnt have the training and experience to identify, diagnose and treat common car crash injuries. Instead, seek medical care from a specialist with expertise in treating spine, joint and musculoskeletal conditions.
At your medical check-up, your doctor will:
- Ask you about your accident, how it occurred, where youre feeling pain and when symptoms began
- Perform a physical exam to check for pain, tenderness and swelling, muscle strength and range of motion
- Order imaging exams like an X-ray, MRI and CT scan to visualize internal swelling or bleeding, fractures, ruptured discs and other damage
After performing a thorough evaluation and running tests, your doctor will make a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.
Neck Or Shoulder Pain
Muscular pain occurs when a person sees the accident coming and tenses their muscles involuntarily. Just like the plate on the shelf in the example above, these tense muscles are more prone to injury.
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What Can Happen When Whiplash Is Left Untreated
West Virginias rural roads cause a significant number of accidents due to mountainous terrain, winding roads, and poor maintenance by the state. Many car accidents in West Virginia as well as across the nation cause whiplash, an injury that affects 3 million people each year. A person gets whiplash during a collision when their head quickly whips from one direction to another. This causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck to overstretch and hurt.
Adrenaline pumps through the body immediately following a car accident, and so any pain the victim should feel may be masked by the rush. A person might not even realize they have whiplash until hours or weeks after the accident.
Can Your Lower Back Hurt From Being Rear Ended
Lumbar Sprains The strong and sudden force of a car accident causes damage to the muscles and surrounding tissue in the back, causing lower back pain. This particular lower back pain is common back pain after being rear ended in a collision. Doctors will diagnose this through clinical evaluation and experience.
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Connection Between Back Pain And Whiplash
Whiplash is the most common cause of back pain after an accident. This occurs when the excessive force on the back causes muscles, tendons, and ligaments to stretch too far, essentially spraining the back. Whiplash can target several areas in the back, but it is most common in either the upper or lower regions.
The aggressive movement of the body in an accident can cause the lower back to move beyond its capability, which can stretch out connective tissues and tear small joints in that area. The displacement of the neck during whiplash can cause the vertebrae that make up the structure of the spine to change curvature, which can impact many nerves throughout the spine and produce enduring pain in the upper back.
How Long Does Back Pain Last After A Rear End Collision Or Other Crash
It is difficult to predict how long back pain from a car accident will last.
There are many factors to consider, including general overall health and any other conditions that may be present before the accident. Depending on the injury, recovery times can last anywhere from several weeks to several months. The most important thing to remember is to give yourself time and space to recover. Recognize that you will feel better. Reach out to others with similar experiences and ask them for their recommendations and support.
Finally, follow the guidance and treatments offered by your medical team. It can be challenging to complete physical therapy exercises that are painful. Finding the support to do them anyway is crucial.
Pain Doctor specializes in personalized pain management that includes a holistic look at the whole patient. If you are experiencing lingering pain from a car accident, get in touch today. We would love to help you get back to your life!
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How Whiplash Affects You In The Long Run
Whiplash injuries will often have a slow onset, so many people will not even realize that they have suffered the injury until hours or even days after the accident.
Because of this, many people will not seek treatment at all, hoping the pain will be short-lived and that they will just start to feel better with time.
This is the worst possible decision one could make. While in some rare circumstances the victim may feel better on their own, the majority will suffer from long-term complications.
- Limited range of motion in the neck or surrounding area
- Permanent soft tissue damage
When you see a medical professional right away, the doctor will be able to diagnose and treat your whiplash injury before you begin to experience pain and lose your range of motion.
Those who fail to seek medical treatment, even when their injury is minor, will run the risk of experiencing whiplash symptoms for much longer than those who receive proper treatment.
Surgery As A Treatment For Lower Back Pain
Serious injuries might require surgical correction right off the bat. In other cases, surgery might be recommended if less invasive treatments arent working.
If your injuries resulted from an auto accident, your vehicle insurance will likely pay initial medical bills through no-fault PIP coverage. However, if surgery is required, medical expenses may exhaust PIP funds and you would seek coverage through your own health insurance, or from uninsured or underinsured coverage options available in your policy if you opted to purchase them.
That is why it is important to have an attorney review all potential insurance coverages that could be available to provide you with the most appropriate treatment recommended by a medical professional.
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Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
When someone has been in a car accident or has experienced whiplash due to an injury from some other event, there are specific factors to watch out for that help in determining if there has been a subsequent spinal cord injury as a result.
The cervical spine is connected to the rest of the spinal cord, so if the cervical spine, or neck, has been injured, that can travel down the spine and cause problems in others areas of the body. The ligaments, muscles and other structures in this region have various nerve supplies, so if one of them is injured, it can cause pain in a plethora of other parts of the body. One of the most common symptoms is a lower back pain.
Other symptoms of spinal cord injury include:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Inability to balance while walking
Following a car accident where whiplash is suspected, if any of these signs or symptoms occur, its important to go see a medical doctor as soon as possible for a complete medical evaluation. Bleeding and swelling can be happening around the spinal cord that isnt visible, and it can lead to paralysis either instantly or over time. The severity of complications only gets worse without property treatment.
How Can Physiotherapy Help Whiplash
There are several physical therapy treatments that your physiotherapist has at their disposal to treat whiplash to relieve pain and it will be their help our patients to make a full recovery, these treatments and exercises will promote good posture and involve specific stretches. Whiplash could also be described as a soft tissue injury to the neck, caused when the tendons and ligaments are extended beyond their normal range of movement, resulting in a neck sprain, or neck strain. At your first appointment, our physiotherapist will examine the affected area, asking questions so that they can understand exactly what has happened to the neck. Your Abbey physio will then put together a personalised physiotherapy treatment plan following an initial consultation.
These treatments will consist of manual therapies which we have found proven in the treatment of whiplash symptoms and provide effective pain relief.
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What Are The Common Symptoms Of Whiplash
There are some extremely common whiplash symptoms which can occur, your Physical therapist will be able to relieve pain symptoms working on poor posture:
- tenderness over the neck muscles
- persistent pains and aching in the back muscles and neck including shoulder pain
- abnormal stiffness, worse in the morning.
- reduced and painful neck movements with reduced range of motion
- headaches, often starting from the base of the skull
- sensory disturbance such as pins and needles or tingling.
- constant fatigue
- blurred vision
In anatomy terms, whiplash is hyperextension followed by hyperflexion of the cervical vertebrae spraining the nuchal ligament and the Anterior Longitudinal Ligament respectively. it can also damage the cervical spine , causing a herniated disc in the neck. In response to the traumatic shock of the accident or incident, your body will naturally have produced adrenaline and other hormones to protect the area and delay the onset of pain. Radiating tingling, weakness, or numbness can be caused by one of the neck’s spinal cord spinal nerve roots to become compressed or inflamed. As the adrenaline and hormones wear off as the body relaxes, it can be noticed that you begin to feel symptoms and pain, typically in the neck and or shoulder area. You may also experience headaches or a feeling of pain and numbness that travels down your arms.
Two Lower Back Areas Susceptible To Whiplash Injury
After being injured in a wreck, most accident victims immediately check to see if they have whiplash symptoms or neck pain. But really the lower back can be particularly sensitive to a whiplash injury because the force of the accident mixed with the unnatural movement in the lower back creates enough uneasiness to injure the spine. There are two areas of the spine that become especially vulnerable to whiplash injuries.
Any form of back pain after car accident should be treated as soon as it is recognized, even if delayed. Set up a medical evaluation immediately or get to an emergency room to be assessed by a professional. This care will reduce the chance of complications and provide the proper documentation needed to make a case for the incident and injury.
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