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What Causes Pain in My Neck After a Car Accident? Should I Be Concerned?

neck pain after an accident

There are many reasons why you may experience neck pain after an accident. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and may be temporary or permanent.

You may have heard the term whiplash, but are unsure of what it means exactly, or what the symptoms are.

Whiplash is a common neck injury following a car accident. However, it isn’t always the case.

You may find yourself wondering what to do if it isn’t whiplashed you’re experiencing, but rather something more serious. Either way, you should always have a health care professional to evaluate your symptoms immediately following an accident.

Let’s begin by taking examining whiplash, along with other types of neck injuries sustained after an auto accident.

Whiplash at a Glance

After sustaining a neck injury, there is a good chance that whiplash can occur. Whiplash may be a strain or sprain to your neck. Different parts of your neck can suffer damage and the pain may vary in severity.

There are various parts of your neck associated with whiplash injury. This includes the joints between your vertebrae, discs, ligaments, muscles, and nerves.

Auto accidents can cause your neck to jerk forward and backward in a way that causes trauma. For some, symptoms are immediate. For others, there may be a 24-48 hour delay until symptoms present themselves.

Make sure to look for signs of pain in your neck along with any stiffness, headaches, shoulder pain, or back pain, especially in the lower back. Also watch out for numbness in your hands and arms, dizziness, trouble sleeping and focusing, and fatigue.

If you experience any of these symptoms then immediately contact a physician for an evaluation.

Diagnosing Whiplash

You will need a doctor’s visit in order to properly diagnose whiplash. Expect your doctor to ask you about the severity of your symptoms and when they started.

Your neck injury doctor will perform a physical exam, checking for areas with tenderness and testing your range of motion. Depending on what they find, they may order additional tests.

These additional tests can include X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, to see just how extensive your neck injury. Additional tests also allow accident doctors to get a better understanding of the pain you’re experiencing and its origin.

PET scans are another type of test that a doctor may order. They’re used if a doctor suspects there may have been an injury to the brain.

Whiplash is one of the most common neck injuries sustained as a result of an auto accident and can last weeks, months, or even years.

Other Serious Neck Injuries

It’s important to remember that if an accident occurs on the job, then file a claim for workers’ compensation in the event that you’re entitled to receive benefits. You’ll also need to see a physician for your workers’ compensation claim.

Sometimes whiplash isn’t the culprit, and a more serious neck injury may have taken place. You may have sustained a disc injury, which can be extremely painful when walking or standing.

If you have a herniated or slipped disc, you may also experience a numbing sensation on half of your body and muscle weakness in your arms along with tingling.

If one of these discs presses on a spinal nerve, you may be at risk for permanent damage and a feeling of numbness that never goes away. More severe cases can even lead to incontinence.

Evaluate nerve damage immediately as it can cause severe pain and contribute to other issues. Symptoms to look out for are severe pain in your back, head, and neck, along with back pressure, weakness or paralysis, numbness, tingling, and incontinence.

Twitching as well as extreme sensitivity to hot and cold are also symptoms that require a doctor’s visit.

Spinal stenosis can also occur after an auto accident. Fragments from bones or discs can cause trauma to the spinal area. This affects the nerves and causes acute pain. Treat inflammation to the area with NSAIDs, as well as physical therapy to help alleviate pain.

It is important to allow a doctor to diagnose spinal stenosis. Avoid certain exercises that can make the pain worse and complicate your condition. Talk to your health care professional about the best exercises for your condition.

Treating Neck Pain After an Accident

Neck pain after an addict can range from temporary whiplash to serious neck injury caused by nerve damage. Nerve damage can cause debilitating symptoms, some becoming permanent.

Always take nerve damage seriously, as it can get worse with time. Failing to address nerve damage can result in permanent injury. Unfortunately, nerve damage can’t always be completely healed.

There are different treatment options for nerve damage. Physical therapy can help to regain any loss of motion. It can also help to strengthen the damage caused to any muscles. Occupational therapy is another way to treat nerve damage.

Doctors may prescribe medication for nerve damage to treat pain and manage any type of underlying condition. However, if medication and physical/occupational therapy aren’t enough, surgery may be the last resort.

If medication and physical therapy have proven ineffective, then surgery may correct spinal stenosis as a result of a car accident.

Finding the Right Doctor

Neck injuries aren’t a one size fits all. It’s important to always have a health care professional diagnose your injuries, no matter how great or small.

Whiplash can occur immediately or present itself 24-48 hours later. Symptoms can range in severity and duration. More serious injuries involving the nerves and discs can cause extremely painful symptoms that last years, if not permanently.

Don’t hesitate with treating neck pain after an accident. Since nerve damage progresses over time, it is imperative to seek medical treatment immediately.

Call 1-800-897-8440 today to find an experienced neck injury doctor near you. Don’t delay, some injuries can be hidden, call now and get on your way to recovery.