According to the U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more than five and a half million car accidents in the United States in 2013, and by all accounts, these accidents are up. Especially due to cell phone use and texting while driving, car accidents from minor fender benders to fatal occurrences in the U. S. are on the rise, with millions of victims sustaining injuries. One of the most common of these is injuries to the neck. Neck injuries can happen even in a minor car accident, and the pain that accompanies a neck injury can range from slight discomfort to debilitating and life altering. Below are the types of neck injuries that often accompany car accidents.
Whiplash and neck strain
Whiplash is a term that is often used interchangeably with neck strain, though it can be a bit more painful and specific than neck strain. Neck strain occurs when neck muscles are torn or strained from sudden movement or abnormal stretching. Most whiplash injuries resulting from car accidents occur when a car is struck from behind, or ‘rearended.’ In fact, virtually all forms of whiplash that occur from car accidents happen in this manner. The symptoms of whiplash include pain, sometimes minor but more often moderate to severe; neck tenderness; a tight feeling in the neck; hardness of muscles; decreased range of motion; headache, especially occurring at the base of the skull or radiating; pain when moving the head or neck forward to backward or from one side to the other; and inability to move the head in either of these directions. One lesser known fact about whiplash is that it does not always occur immediately following a car accident, but can often show up hours to days later. Whiplash injuries can lead to or be a result of joint dysfunction, which can cause restricted range of motion, especially if improperly treated. In addition, whiplash can cause disc herniation, which is an injury to discs between the vertebrae. This can lead to tears and disc extrusion. Herniated discs can cause sudden and sharp pains that shoot down extremities, as well as numbness and tingling. Whiplash injuries should never go untreated.
More commonly referred to as a ‘pinched nerve,’ cervical radiculopathy refers to the irritation or ‘pinched’ feeling that can occur from a bone fragment or ruptured disc. Car accidents often yield this type of neck injury in their victims that will negatively affect nerve function, which can result in muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain that radiates along nerve paths.
All neck injuries should be properly treated in order to achieve optimal neck function with proper range of motion and alleviation of pain. Chiropractic adjustments are often sought after car accidents because they can alleviate the pain that accompanies car accident injuries. Virtually all forms of chiropractic treatments and procedures can help to treat affected areas of the neck that are causing pain and decreased range of motion. Chiropractic adjustments can reduce the spinal subluxation that can occur when vertebrae are out of place and compressing or pinching nerves. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can be an effective means of physical therapy that can help to strengthen muscles, ease sudden or chronic pain, and reduce muscle spasms. Acupuncture can alleviate virtually all types of neck pain experienced in car accidents as well as promote optimal function of bodily systems. Ice and heat therapies performed by spine care physicians can create better blood circulation and reduce pain. Disc decompression therapy can be a very effective means of providing relief to areas of the neck causing pain and discomfort.
Any and all car accident injuries, especially if they include the neck or head, should be seen immediately by a qualified healthcare provider. Head and neck injuries can be a sign that a serious health condition is occurring, which is why these injuries should never be taken lightly or ignored. If you were in a car accident and are experiencing any neck discomfort, pain, or limited range of motion, contact a chiropractor in your Clifton area for information on how chiropractic treatments can alleviate pain and help you get back to your active life.