As chiropractors with decades of experience, we’ve seen many clients who have suffered from whiplash and other musculoskeletal injuries following a vehicle accident or impact injury. Car accidents can cause a number of issues, particularly affecting the skeleton and spine, muscles, and tendons. These types of injuries can range from minor to severe and can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. Studies have shown the prevalence of shoulder stiffness, headache, and arm pain were significantly greater in patients who sustained whiplash than in control subjects following a 20 year study.
When you’re in a car accident, your body responds with an immediate stress response that includes a big dose of fight-or-flight hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). These are also designed to suppress pain. So, you might injure yourself in a car accident, but you’re not going to necessarily feel the pain until after the stress response winds down. Many car accidents involve soft tissue injuries, and these injuries may not be obvious, at first and may only become apparent after days or even weeks.
Below we discuss the topic of whiplash and other common musculoskeletal injuries that can occur after a car accident, as well as how our chiropractic care may help in the recovery process.
What is Whiplash?
The most common cause of whiplash is a motor vehicle accident, but it can also be the result of a sporting injury or other trauma such as a fall. It occurs when the neck and head are suddenly and rapidly jerked back and forth such as from a rear end or side impact collision. The sudden impact and force of the collision can cause the head to move violently, causing damage to the muscles, ligaments, and joints in the neck.
You can also get a whiplash injury from a sudden blow to the head during contact sports, such as rugby/league or boxing. Other examples and causes of whiplash include being hit on the head by a heavy object, slipping, falling, jolting or jarring your head.
Symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately after a car accident, but can develop over time. Common symptoms include:
- neck problems: pain, stiffness, swelling or tenderness
- difficulty moving your neck
- headaches, difficulty concentrating
- muscle spasms or weakness
- ‘pins and needles’, numbness or pain in your arms and hands or shoulders
- dizziness,vertigo, (a feeling you are moving or spinning) or tinitus(ringing in your ears)
- difficulties swallowing or blurred vision
Other Common Musculoskeletal Injuries
Musculoskeletal injuries (strains/sprains, bruising, dislocations, and fractures) are the most common injury sustained in a vehicle crash. They can have a long-term impact upon the ability to engage in work and normal every day activities. Persisting symptoms may reduce the ability to return to or remain at work necessitating the use of sick leave or alternate duties.
In addition to whiplash, some common musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries that can be managed by our chiropractors include:
- Back Injuries: The impact of a car accident can cause damage to the muscles, vertebrae, and ligaments in the back. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.
- Chest and Shoulder Injuries: The force of a collision and impact of the seat belt can cause impact injuries to the chest and cause shoulder instability, muscle and ligament damage and even dislocation of the shoulder. This can result in pain, weakness, and difficulty performing daily activities.
- Knee Injuries: When a car suddenly stops during an accident, the knees may hit the dashboard or seat in front of them. This can cause sprains, strains and instability to the knee joint.
- Wrist and Hand Injuries: The impact of a car accident can cause the wrists and hands to twist or bend in unnatural ways, resulting in sprains, strains, or fractures.
If you have been involved in a car accident and are experiencing any type of musculoskeletal injury, it is important to seek advice from a health care practitioner. Our Chiropractors are experienced and can assist with pain relief but also ensure that any underlying injuries are properly treated and managed to improve overall musculoskeletal wellness and if necessarily appropriately referred on. Techniques used in treatment may include rehabilitation, soft tissue, adjustments, acupuncture, activator and specialised techniques . Contact Tweed Coast Chiropractic today for additional information or to book an appointment.