Many may think that injuries only happen from serious accidents, but that is not the case. Although serious crashes usually cause a myriad of injuries, minor accidents can also result in injuries.
What not everyone seems to know is that not all injuries make themselves apparent right away. Delayed pain after a car accident is extremely common.
These delayed symptoms may indicate a more minor injury, while some indicate a life-threatening injury. No matter the type of symptom, it is important to treat car accident injuries right away, as not doing so can have long-term consequences.
Unless it is an emergency, an auto accident chiropractor can treat a wide range of symptoms and injuries related to crashes. At Mount Prospect Health Center, our car accident chiropractors have the training necessary to diagnose and treat many of the injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.
Car Accident Facts and Stats
Car accidents occur frequently, and there are various causes. Distracted driving is a common cause. This refers to anything that takes the driver’s focus off the road.
Common distractors include:
- Eating or drinking in the car
- Fiddling with the radio or navigational system
- Dealing with kids in the back
- Talking to vehicle occupants
- Using the phone
Texting is especially concerning, as reading or sending a text results in the phone user taking eyes off the road for at least five seconds. This is always dangerous, but this greatly increases the chances of a car crash at higher speeds.
Teenagers are commonly guilty of using their cellphones while driving. Younger drivers are already high-risk drivers, mainly due to inexperience, and they are more prone to take part in distracted activities, especially when other teens are in the vehicle.
Injuries due to car accidents are costly. Injuries in just one year result in medical and lost wages costs of an average of $50 billion. Medical costs are due to emergency visits, hospital stays, physical therapy rehabilitation and additional treatments such as from an acupuncturist, massage therapist or car accident chiropractor.
Common Symptoms and Delayed Pain After a Car Accident
People who are in more minor crashes, such as rear-end accidents at lower speeds, may not notice symptoms right away, which means they may not get the care they need from an auto accident chiropractor.
Some symptoms take a few hours or even a couple days to appear; plus, adrenaline surges post-accident and can mute underlying pain and symptoms. Delayed symptoms may affect a crash victim physically, mentally and emotionally.
A common car accident injury is whiplash. The force of the crash causes the head to move forward and backward quickly, and this causes injury to the muscles, ligaments and nerves of the neck.
Whiplash injuries can result in a variety of symptoms, and neck pain and stiffness are common ones. There may be muscle spasms, which also decrease the neck’s range of motion and causes pain with movement.
Headaches are another common delayed symptom in accident victims. Whiplash is one potential cause of headaches. Another cause is nerve pressure caused by a misaligned spine. A prolonged and worsening headache may indicate a more serious issue, such as a concussion or brain clot.
Back Stiffness or Pain
Back stiffness can occur in the upper or lower back, and the cause is often muscle, nerve or ligament injury. Pain can also indicate injury to the spinal vertebrae.
Tingling or Numbness
Car accidents often cause the spine to misalign, which causes injury to the nerves. There are various symptoms related to nerve pressure, and tingling or numbness, particularly in the extremities, are common. This occurs frequently when there is a whiplash injury.
Abdominal Swelling or Pain
This is more common after accidents involving higher speeds. It typically indicates internal bleeding, especially if there are other symptoms such as bruising, nausea and dizziness.
Some people may have trouble sleeping after even minor car accidents, which leads to fatigue. If there are significant changes in sleep patterns, this may indicate some type of brain injury.
Emotional or Behavioral Changes
Other car accident injuries include emotional trauma. It is not uncommon for crash victims to suffer emotionally after an accident.
In fact, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects a decent number of people after a crash. Symptoms may include frequent and ongoing nightmares of the crash, depression, avoidance issues and fear of driving.
Personality and behavioral changes may also occur. These may indicate a brain injury.
Consequences of Ignoring Delayed Symptoms
One unfortunate consequence of delayed pain after a car accident is that it may cause people to ignore symptoms and avoid seeking treatment. This is especially true if the pain or discomfort is minor, or if the crash victim had frequent headaches or other symptoms before the accident.
The thing about the body is that it adjusts well to circumstances over time. One result of this is that post-accident symptoms may go away on their own after a little while. Many people think that the injury has gone away; however, the injury is still there even when symptoms are not present.
Leaving injuries untreated leads to more concerns. It makes the victim more susceptible to other injuries, and it often results in chronic issues. It is much easier to treat acute injuries than chronic ones. It is also often possible to completely heal an acute injury when the person seeks treatment right away, while there is a limitation to the amount of healing that can occur with chronic injuries.
A Typical Visit with a Car Accident Chiropractor
If it is not a serious accident that requires immediate emergency attention, it is a smart idea to contact a chiropractor as soon as possible after the crash, even if there are no symptoms yet. A chiropractor has several ways to find the cause of the problem, whether or not the patient knows there is an injury present.
A chiropractor focuses on treating the patient naturally, without the use of medication or surgery. Chiropractors find areas of the spine that are causing nerve irritation and pressure, and then they move the spine in a specific and safe manner that places the spinal bones back in their proper position, which allows the nerves to function normally again.
The first part of the initial office visit is to determine if chiropractic is a good option for the patient. The chiropractor will review the patient’s medical and health history and ask various questions. These include those related to the accident and associated symptoms, including how they affect the patient’s daily life. The chiropractor will find out if the patient has had chiropractic care before and if there were any symptoms prior to the accident.
Next, the chiropractor will conduct an exam. This includes a neurological and, sometimes, orthopedic exam to see how the nerves are functioning. The exam may include additional diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, as this helps the chiropractor determine the extent of the injury.
Based on the consultation and exam, the chiropractor will make a recommendation for treatment. If the chiropractor determines that the patient needs treatment from a different specialist, he or she will make the necessary referrals. However, if chiropractic can help, the patient will receive an estimate of how many visits it may take to get and feel better as well as what the treatment will consist of.
One of the main things that an auto accident chiropractor does to help a patient is perform an adjustment. This moves the spinal bones of the injured area so that healing can begin. Depending on what the chiropractor found during the exam, the patient may receive one or more adjustments along the spine.
The goal of chiropractic care is not only to relieve symptoms as quickly as possible,but also to fix the underlying issue so it does not return or lead to chronic problems. Depending on the specific patient and situation, an adjustment may not be sufficient to meet these goals. The chiropractor may recommend additional therapies such as muscle work, trigger point therapy, hot or cold therapy, nutritional changes or exercises to strengthen or balance the injured area.
Chiropractic is not a quick fix, because the focus is to truly heal the injury. The chiropractor will set the patient up with a series of visits based on the extent of the injury. The treatment conducted at each visit will vary based on what the exam shows on that particular day.
Set up a Consultation Today
Don’t wait to be in extreme pain to make an appointment with a chiropractor after a car accident. It is common to have delayed pain after a car accident, and the longer you wait to seek treatment, the longer it will take to feel better and be free of injuries. You should seek medical attention right away.
We can determine if you would benefit from chiropractic or if your injuries require different types of treatment. We support accident victims throughout the recovery process so we also work with your personal injury attorney for any medical records or paperwork they require.
Make an appointment with experienced injury doctors at Mount Prospect Health Center in Newark, NJ. We accept PIP (personal injury protection), no-fault, and other insurance plans. Same-day appointments may be available.