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Why Does My Neck Hurt After a Car Accident?
As an accident lawyer the most common injuries we see caused by car accidents and rear end collisions is injury to the neck. If your neck hurts after a car accident it’s most likely because you have whiplash. Since whiplash is a common injury and not catastrophic or paralyzing, it’s usually fairly straightforward to treat. That is not to say that suffering from injuries due to whiplash isn’t scary or painful. But luckily, there are all different kinds of options to treat whiplash injuries. As an injury attorney, we highly recommend seeking medical attention immediately after your accident. Even if you think your injuries are not that serious. The reason being, injuries due to whiplash can appear just days after your accident. This is because your adrenaline has stopped pumping through your body and you begin to feel the full effect of the accident.
Diagnosing whiplash involves a few steps; you will want to see your doctor and inform them of the symptoms you have been feeling (the most common identifiers have be laid out below). Your doctor will likely begin by asking a wide range of questions about your symptoms and how you are feeling overall. They will then begin doing a physical examination where they will touch and move your head, beck, shoulders, and arms in order to do the following:
- Checking range of motion will be able to help determine the severity of whiplash;
- The degree of motion that causes pain or increases your pain;
- The physician will likely check for tenderness in your neck, shoulders, and back;
- As with any other physical examination they will check your reflexes and strength as well as any tingling or numbing sensation in your limbs
During any examination, you want to be as honest as possible about what hurts and the severity of the injuries. This will help them be able to plan a course of treatment that will lead you on a path of recovery.
Another very common form of diagnosing whiplash is image testing. Though not all tests will show abnormal changes, the likelihood of your practitioner of order such tests is much greater; this is so they can rule out any other conditions that may also be causing injury.
- X-rays are going to show fractures, dislocations, or arthritis in your neck when they are taken at different angles;
- CT Scans (computerized tomography) are a special kind of X-ray that produces images of bones and bone damage that a regular X-ray will not be able to grab;
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests use radio waves and magnetic fields in order to produce a detailed 3-D image. MRI scans not only catch injuries to bones, they can detect soft tissue damage to the spinal cord, disks, or ligaments.
Whatever route your physician decides to take, know that it is likely what is best for getting your health back to what it used to be.
The most common identifier in whiplash injuries is pain and tenderness in your neck. As stated earlier, due to adrenaline, it can take a day or two after your accident before symptoms materialize. If you experience any of the following symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
- Neck pain that worsens when you move;
- Stiffness in your neck;
- Loss of neck range motion;
- Headaches that generally begin at the base of the skull;
- Tenderness and/or pain in your shoulders, back, and upper arms;
- Tingling or numbness in your arms;
- Dizziness and fatigue;
- Blurred vision;
- Ringing in your ears;
- Issues with memory or concentration;
- Sleeplessness and irritability
Medical Treatment Options
After your doctor is able to give you a firm diagnosis, it is best to follow whatever treatment they have planned. There are many ways to treat whiplash injuries, however you want to make sure that you follow what your doctor has laid out for you. This will help when we are putting your case together. As it will show that you are putting your health first.
Home Treatment for Neck Injuries & Whiplash
For the first 24 hours after your accident, you will want to take it easy so your tissue can rest. Make sure to spread out any necessary activities so that you have the chance to rest in between them. Avoid heavy lifting and make sure you are not exercising or doing anything strenuous. Remember, you want to rest to make sure that you heal properly from your injuries.
- Avoid staying in the same position for long periods of time
- Try to gently move your neck within a range of motion that does not cause more pain;
- Take prescription medications if you are experiencing severe pain
- Your doctor may prescribe you pain medication if over-the-counter medications are not working for you. These can include muscle relaxers that will help relieve the pain of muscle spasms;
- See a physical therapist
- A physical therapist will be able to help you regain your range-of-motion after an accident. They will be able to teach you stretches that you can do at home.
- Physical therapy may cause a little discomfort however it should not cause pain. Make sure you are communicating with your therapist if you are feeling pain.
- Common physical therapy exercises include rotating your neck left to right, tilting your head side to side, up and down and rolling your shoulders.
Remember, physical therapy will be uncomfortable but should not cause you additional pain.
Some people choose to seek alternative medicine. Which is something that we do not frown upon. However, we do want to caution you on the fact that not all alternatives will be covered by health insurance. And you may not receive compensation in your settlement for certain treatments.
Chiropractic Care for a Neck Injury
As an accident lawyer we always refer our clients to a chiropractor after an accident. This is because chiropractors can adjust your spine in order to help with the alignment of your spine. Spinal adjustments, under the best circumstances, should help relieve any residual pain in your neck. As well as help restore movement to your neck and back. Make sure you tell your chiropractor that you suffered from whiplash due to an accident and they will treat accordingly.
Though it will not be covered by health insurance and most insurance adjusters will not compensate you for massage therapy, it is still a great way to relieve pain. You will want to wait until soft tissue starts healing so you do not aggravate your injuries. When you begin, you will want to keep the massage light, but as you begin healing, your massage therapist will be able to determine the proper amount of pressure.
Acupuncture may also not be compensated when you reach a settlement. It is an ancient Chinese form of medicine where a trained professional inserts tiny needles into your skin. Acupuncture is used in whiplash cases in order to restore balance.
How Long do Whiplash Symptoms Last?
Whatever route you decide to take for your healing path, the amount of time it will take to recover from your injuries will greatly depend on your health prior to your accident. As a rule of thumb, the majority of whiplash injuries can heal within six (6) weeks after the initial injury. Again, this will not only depend on your health prior but also how soon you seek treatment for your injuries.
On a side note, about 1/3 of people who have suffered from whiplash related injuries still feel some amount of pain even ten (10) years after the initial accident. Some say that they feel the symptoms their entire lives.
The pain level after the first three weeks of injuries is usually a clear indication of whether or not the person will recover. For instance, people who have reported severe pain have a significantly decreased chance of making a full recovery. The chances of re-injury are increased by nearly 75% if your initial injuries were on the more severe side of the spectrum.
Suffering from Neck Injuries? Contact an Accident Lawyer Today!
Remember, if you are injured in an accident that was caused by someone else, you deserve to seek medical treatment. It is important to follow the regimen your doctor prescribes in order to receive the best possible care and settlement amount.
If you have been injured, contact us right away. Consultations with an injury attorney in our office are free. You deserve the best possible representation and we are here to help!