What’s Causing The Pain In My Neck & Lower Back After A Car Accident?
Car Accident Back Pain
Discogenic pain refers to pain that is associated with the spinal discs. These round pieces of cartilage act like a cushioning system between each bone that makes up the spine. They also allow for movement and stability. When one or more spinal disc is damaged, the pain can be intense.
Discogenic pain occurs as the condition of the spinal discs either gradually deteriorate over time or as a result of sudden acute trauma, such as in a car crash.
Discogenic pain is caused by some sort of damage to the spinal disc. The most common injuries that cause pain in this area are: lumbar sprains, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and a degenerative spinal disorder. The majority of people experience discogenic pain in the lumbar (lower) spine area.
Discogenic pain can present itself while a person is sitting or lying perfectly still, or when some form of activity irritates the affected area. This pain is often described as shooting and sharp; it can be localized to the damaged disc area or it may radiate to one or both legs, the buttocks, the groin, or feet . This radiation is known as sciatica and it can be extremely uncomfortable.
Typically, the pain will be exasperated by bending over, sitting, or standing for short or long periods of time; each person has their own trigger. Some people find relief by laying down flat or in a cradled position, while others find that walking or moving around will actually relieve the pain.
Can you get delayed whiplash?
Whiplash, also called neck sprain or neck strain, is injury to the neck. Whiplash is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades
- Low back pain
- Pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue
In the past, whiplash injuries were often treated with immobilization in a cervical collar. However, the current trend is to encourage early movement instead of immobilization. Ice is often recommended for the first 24 hours, followed by gentle, active movement.
How long after an accident can you get whiplash?
- Most mild to moderate cases of whiplash can be treated at home using over-the-counter drugs, ice, and other remedies.
- Common symptoms of whiplash include neck pain and stiffness, headaches, and dizziness.
- Average recovery time is anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Most people fully recover within three months.
Whiplash occurs when a person’s head moves backward and then forward suddenly with great force. This injury is most common following a rear-end car collision. It can also result from physical abuse, sports injuries, or amusement park rides.
Whiplash results when the soft tissues (the muscles and ligaments) of your neck extend beyond their typical range of motion. Your symptoms might not appear for a while, so it’s important to pay attention to any physical changes for a few days following any accident.
Whiplash is thought of as a relatively mild condition, but it can cause long-term pain and discomfort.
Can whiplash cause back pain?
The hallmark symptoms of whiplash are neck pain, neck stiffness, muscle spasm or tightness, difficulty turning your head and headache. Other symptoms of whiplash can include:
- Pain in the shoulders, lower back or between the shoulder blades
- Arm pain or heaviness
- Difficulty with concentration or memory
- Sleep disturbances
How long will it take to recover from whiplash?
The time it takes for symptoms to go away from a whiplash injury varies greatly by person. The majority of whiplash injuries heal within six weeks after the injury. However, there are 1/3 of people who report neck pain after ten years. Others have symptoms for the rest of their lives.
The initial level of pain that is felt within the first three weeks after the whiplash injury has been found to be a good indication of whether or not a person will recover; people who report severe pain have a significantly decreased chance of recovering fully. Those with preexisting conditions, such as neck pain, arthritis in the neck, and headaches, generally have longer recovery times or suffer long-term effects. And of those with deceased movement in their neck after the injury, up to 75% of those individuals are still disabled after one year. In addition, instability in the neck after injury increases your risk of re-injury in the future.
How do you sleep when you have whiplash?
- Practice proper posture by keeping your head, neck, upper body and lower back aligned during movement and at rest, which relieves stress on the neck. Avoid carrying shoulder bags and sitting for long periods. Also, try sleeping on your back with a pillow underneath your thighs to relieve pain.
- Do neck stretches and exercises to improve muscle strength and range of motion. A doctor or physical therapist can show you exercises and stretches to practice at home.
Wearing a soft foam cervical collar is no longer routinely recommended for treating whiplash—the collar limits movement, allowing muscles to weaken. However, doctors may sometimes suggest wearing a collar when pain is acute but for only one or two weeks and no longer than three hours daily. A collar may also help at night if pain is preventing you from sleeping.
What’s the Treatment for Whiplash?
Here’s the good news: given time, whiplash should heal on its own. To help with recovery, you should:
- Ice your neck to reduce pain and swelling as soon as you can after the injury. Do it for 15 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days. Wrap the ice in a thin towel or cloth to prevent injury to the skin.
- Take painkillers or other drugs, if recommended by your doctor. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), will help with pain and swelling. However, these medicines can have side effects. Never use them regularly unless your doctor specifically says you should. Check with your doctor before taking them if you take other medicines or have any medical problems. If over the counter medications do not work, prescription painkillers and muscle relaxants may be necessary.
- Use a neck brace or collar to add support, if your doctor recommends it. However, they are not recommended for long-term use, because they can actually weaken the muscles in your neck.
- Apply moist heat to your neck — but only after 2-3 days of icing it first. Use heat on your neck only after the initial swelling has gone down. You could use warm, wet towels or take a warm bath.
- Other treatments, like ultrasound and massage, may also help.