During a car accident, most of the damage can happen in a split second, when one vehicle makes an impact with another. It’s that moment that causes your body to jerk around, hit hard surfaces, or be impacted by any broken vehicle parts. But despite this, it is not uncommon for symptoms of injuries to take hours or days to become evident. This phenomenon can be confusing and cause some people to skip visiting a car accident chiropractor altogether. However, delayed pain is not any less important than immediate pain and can often indicate serious issues that should be evaluated.
Why Pain May Be Delayed
The moment you get in a car accident can be very scary. Even if you are okay in the moment, the event can be startling and have you shaken up. Our bodies are designed so that in scary or anxiety-provoking situations, we go into what is known as fight or flight mode, where we will either run or confront the issue. A part of this reaction is a release of the hormone adrenaline, which gives us a temporary energy boost and may cover up negative emotions or physical feelings, like neck pain or any other kind of pain. When adrenaline rushes through you after an accident, it can be hiding pain that you will later feel as a result of your injury.
In some cases, a severe injury can also cause your body to go into shock. To compensate for the damage, your body may shut off some nerve receptors so that you can carry on without feeling pain. You can also be in emotional shock, where you are so preoccupied where taking care of any more obvious injuries, dealing with insurance and other parties, and assessing your vehicle that these other forms of pain may not cross your mind.
All of these phenomena will wear off over some period of time, and you will begin to feel these injuries. Sometimes they may have worsened because you didn’t know to address them, or you may be tempted to brush them off as unrelated, but it is important to have them evaluated immediately to prevent long term effects.
Common Back Injuries After Car Accidents
Back pain after an accident can be the result of a wide variety of injuries, often depending on the type and speed of the accident itself. Some people will experience generalized pain as a result of a sprain or strain associated with unusual movement, but the most commonly reported injuries are related to nerve damage or discs that have been pinched or herniated. Back pain is also often related to neck pain, and the two will likely present together.
Some common forms of back injuries seen by car accident chiropractors are whiplash, herniated discs, disc damage, soft tissue injuries, lumbar sprains, and strains. In some cases, the accident may also lead to spinal stenosis, facet joint disease, or degenerative disc disease and can become chronic sources of pain over time.
The type of pain you are in can be a hint as to the type of back injury you are facing. Numbness or tingling in the back and extremities points to a likely pinched nerve. These nerves are responsible for body-brain communication and when they are cut off, you may lose feeling in that area if not treated properly. Lower back pain, on the other hand, usually indicates disc damage. These cushiony discs sit between your vertebrae to facilitate movement, and when they are damaged or misplaced, it becomes difficult to go about daily activities.
Many back injuries can lead to more serious injuries over time, and the spine plays an important role in all processes in the body. For this reason, it is important to maintain your spinal health and be proactive.
Seeking Care for Delayed Injury
From both a legal and medical standpoint, it is best practice to see a car accident chiropractor as soon as possible after the accident occurs. If you do not feel any pain, you may be having delayed symptoms and being looked at quickly can help a doctor to take early measures to reduce your recovery time and stop issues from becoming lifelong. However, if you have not yet seen a provider and are just now encountering symptoms, it is never too late to go in. A chiropractor will be able to determine what kind of damage your back may have suffered and develop a treatment plan appropriate to your situation.
At AICA Atlanta, our chiropractors specialize in seeing people who have been in car accidents, so we know your back pain. Our team will assess your injury and help create the best recovery plan for you and your health. No matter when your accident was, call us today to begin a path towards a pain-free life.