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What you can do about pain weeks after a car accident

Car accidents are over in mere moments but often have consequences for your health that last for far longer. After the smoke clears, most people are simply happy to be able to walk away from such events. Most of the time you will not notice the injuries from a car accident right away. Some injuries take twenty-four hours or longer to show symptoms. It’s usually not until inflammation sets in that you’re able to feel all injuries.


According to the Center for Disease Control, for every one person who dies in a car accident, eight people are sent to the hospital, one-hundred receive treatment and will discharge from the emergency room, and many more will report injuries that were not recognizable immediately after their accident.

What Happens After A Car Accident

Just because a seat belt was worn and there is no visible injury, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Seat belts save many lives since becoming regulation for vehicles. While they prevent vehicle occupants from being ejected upon impact, they don’t prevent the shock the body absorbs from that impact. On impact, shock waves travel from the vehicle to the occupants causing the body to jerk rapidly until the energy is expelled.

It is this force that can cause ligaments, muscles, and tendons to tear or damage. Because your body releases chemicals in response to trauma, adrenaline, for example, it’s not uncommon to feel perfectly fine after a car accident and even energetic. Adrenaline can boost physical performance and numb the body to pain, so once this natural chemical inevitably wears off, someone who walked away from a car accident may find themselves unable to get out of their beds days and sometimes weeks later.

Endorphins are also released during and after trauma which can mask injuries. These neurotransmitters can also numb the body to pain but also have the effect of altering mood. Relaxin and oxytocin are additional chemicals that are present in pregnant and nursing mothers which causes ligaments, muscles, and joints to relax for labor and nursing purposes but it makes mothers more suspectable to injury from car accidents.

Symptoms You May Experience After a Car Accident

The delay of injuries from a car accident can cause an individual to believe the pain is due to another source. Some symptoms you don’t want to ignore are:

  • Stiffness, tenderness, or pain in the neck, back, or other areas
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Difficulty remembering or concentrating
  • Numbness
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Tingling
  • Burning sensations
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability

What Can You Do

While there are some self-care steps you can take it’s important to seek medical care immediately after a car accident and the weeks following if any symptoms arise. Seeking treatment could mean the difference between years of pain and a restriction to motion or returning to the state of your physical health before the accident. Ignoring your symptoms will not make them go away if they relate to damaged ligaments, muscles, or tendons.

The good news is there are treatment options available to reduce or eliminate your symptoms. After you are released from the emergency room you will want to consider following up with your general physician per the instructions of the emergency room physicians. Another step to recovery is seeking the care of a chiropractor.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health, a 2010 review of scientific evidence on manual therapies found that chiropractic care can be useful in alleviating or eliminating back and neck pain, migraines and neck related headaches, and injuries associated with whiplash.

Spinal adjustment is what comes to the mind of most people when they think of chiropractic care. This is just one of many things your chiropractor may use to give you relief. Some of the treatments chiropractors may use are:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Rehabilitative exercise
  • Heat and ice treatment
  • Counseling on weight loss, diet, and general lifestyle factors
  • Supplements

Regardless of your treatment plan, take hope. You don’t have to live a life with a permanent reminder of your car accident in the form of lingering pain or immobility. The sooner you take action to seek the care necessary for healing, the faster you’ll achieve your health goals.

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