What should you do if you experience back pain after a vehicle accident? There are two parts to the answer to that question. The first part pertains to what happens immediately after the incident. If you are unable to move around enough to drive or do regular daily activities, get to an emergency chiropractic office immediately. As for the second part, if you don’t notice any back pain until the next day, you should still visit a chiropractor. It’s important to remember that various types of pain might not even appear for days or weeks after a collision, so head to a chiropractor no matter what, even if you don’t have any pain at all.
Here are more details about what you can do between the time you make an appointment and arriving at the doctor’s office for a complete exam.
What To Do for Post-Accident Back Pain
The two most essential items on your “After a car accident list” should be “Don’t take any pain medication,” and “Don’t delay getting treatment from a chiropractic physician.” If you stick with those two basic guidelines, you’ll be in good hands quickly, and won’t risk complications from risky forms of pharmaceutical drugs.
It’s also helpful if you, or a relative or friend, can make a list of your pain symptoms, particularly if you have back pain. Note details about intensity, how often the pain occurs, exactly where you feel it, how long it lasts, what it’s like (tingling, sharp, dull, spasm-like, warm, mixed with numbness, etc.), and whether it gets worse or lessens when you sit, stand, or lie down. The more details about the pain you can bring with you to the chiropractor’s office, the better.
The Four Main Types of Back Injuries
When you’re in a car accident and experience back pain as a result, remember that even minor pain can grow as time passes, which is why you need medical attention asap. The human body is not built to deal with rapid, strong impact from any direction, especially the multi-directional types of blows it receives in a vehicular collision. What kinds of back injuries are there? Among the many ways that the human back can experience injury, the four most common ones are:
- Herniated Disks: If one of the disk-shaped cushions that sits between your spinal vertebrae becomes bulged or ruptured, it is called a “herniated disk.” When working properly, the disks serve as miniature shock absorbers between your spinal vertebrae. Sometimes, a displaced or herniated disk can put pressure on your spinal cord or the nearby nerves. How will you know if you have a herniated disk? Most likely, you will notice very intense pain that comes on suddenly and without warning in your lower back. You might also have varying degrees of numbness in one or both legs.
- Injuries to the Spinal Cord Of all the back injuries, ones involving the spinal cord are the most serious of all. It’s possible to become permanently disabled from a spinal cord injury, in which the cord itself is bruised, damaged, or placed under pressure from surrounding tissues or bones. What can happen? Some people with spinal cord injuries become paralyzed in one or more parts of their bodies or lose their reflex ability or sensation. Some people who die in car accidents are victims of severe spinal cord injuries.
- Injuries to the Lumbar Spine: This section of the spine is the strongest of all its parts. It contains five vertebrae and several powerful muscles that allow you to stand upright and help keep the entire spine stabilized. If you injure your lumbar spine in a car accident, you’ll be in a lot of pain and could experience ligament damage or dangerously over-stretched muscles, tendons, or ligaments. People who hurt their lumbar spinal region in a collision typically have problems with range-of-motion, have difficulty doing ordinary activities like bending over, notice extreme tenderness, have bruising, or experience swelling.
- Injuries to the Thoracic Spine: The part of the human spine that is located in the upper back and abdominal area is called the thoracic spine. These tend to be the most serious of all spine or back injuries because the thoracic spine is the bridge between your body’s check and the ribs. It’s possible to experience permanent damage to the nerves if you injure this part of the back in a high-impact collision.
How a Chiropractor Will Help Your Accident-Related Back Pain
How do DCs help start the body’s natural recovery process? They use multiple techniques, like spinal adjustment, massage, and other hands-on techniques, all of which are virtually painless. Here are just a few of the reasons it’s so essential to see a chiropractor if you’ve been in a car accident, whether you are currently experiencing any pain or not:
- There’s no surgery or medication of any kind. That means no risk of adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals and no side-effects of surgical procedures
- The chiropractor can discover so-called “invisible” conditions and injuries like delayed-onset whiplash, damage to muscle tissue, and more
- Early treatment after an accident reduces the chance that any injuries you have will become long-term
- There’s a better chance the doctor will be able to restore your full range-of-motion in limbs, trunk, back, neck, and the rest of your body
- You’ll have accurate documentation of your injuries for insurance claims, verified by a licensed chiropractor
- Immediate medical attention can mean a better chance to reduce the development of scar tissue in the body and reduce inflammation
Why See a Chiropractor for Your Back Pain?
What should you do if you have back pain after a car accident? Get to a chiropractor as soon as possible. A trained doctor of chiropractic medicine (DC) will put you on the path to recovery the minute you step into the office. One of the main benefits of treatment is the fact that no drugs or surgery are used. Only natural methods of treatment. including spinal adjustment, are employed to alleviate pain and help restore the body’s healthy state.
When the DC adjusts your back, the procedure signals the body to release powerful substances into the bloodstream that reduce pain and set the healing process in motion. One result is reduced inflammation and pain. Another is the eventual restoration of mobility. When your spine is properly aligned by chiropractic treatment, you also stand a better chance of experiencing a recurrence of back pain.
Taking Care of Your Back
If you’re in a vehicle accident, minor or major, get to a chiropractor’s office quickly, don’t take pain meds, and make a detailed list of all your symptoms. If you’re in too much pain, ask someone to make the list for you, and move as little as possible until you meet with the chiropractic physician. Back pain can be serious and life-threatening. The good news is that a trained medical professional can help you recover offer treatment that can eliminate the pain and long-term harm of back injuries.
Dr. Tim Ciolkosz is a board-certified chiropractic physician with a quarter-century of experience helping accident victims and people with all kinds of injuries and painful conditions. Our office at the Spinal Health & Wellness in Pike Creek is currently accepting new patients, so feel free to call or walk in to make an appointment. We welcome emergency cases as well. Our phone is 302-993-9113, and for more information, you can visit our website. The office address is 3105 Limestone Road Suite 303 in Wilmington. We look forward to helping you live pain-free and recover from your injuries.