Having a car accident is scary-not to mention dangerous. Even if you are lucky enough to walk away without any major injury, other side effects may linger long after the accident. Many people experience shock or post-traumatic stress syndrome in the days or weeks following their car accident.
Whiplash is one side effect almost all car accident victims suffer from. Although the health dangers related to whiplash can be very serious, many sufferers ignore their symptoms and assume they will heal with time.
If you have been in a car accident recently-or ever-and experience frequent headaches, confusion, neck pain, back pain, or numbness, you might have whiplash. Working with a chiropractor will help you recover from your injuries and avoid developing even worse problems down the road.
Long-Term Effects of Whiplash
Whiplash affects your body's central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord). That's why side effects of whiplash are hard to pinpoint. In most cases, people completely recover from whiplash within a few months. It is normal to feel muscle tightness and tension in your neck and back after having an accident. However, research regarding the neurological effects of whiplash suggests that whiplash can lead to more severe long-term effects.
Researchers are now discovering a prevalence of long-term neurological disorders and degenerative diseases in patients who never sought treatment for their whiplash. Neuroimaging tests conducted on patients suffering with Alzheimer's and dementia reveal patterns directly tied to head and neck trauma sustained earlier in life.
It is widely accepted that blunt force trauma to the head leads to higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer's, and other brain disorders. However, new research from a team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania reveals evidence that non-contact head injuries may also increase risk of developing Alzheimer's and dementia.
Even at low velocities, when the head and neck experience a rapid change in direction, the brain is damaged as it ricochets off the skull. This severe movement causes damage to sensitive nerve fibers in the brain and on the brain stem. It's at this point that parts of the brain can begin to degenerate.
Because the onset of side effects from Alzheimer's and dementia are not sudden (usually appearing in old age), it is more difficult for scientists to draw a direct link between whiplash and brain damage. However, preliminary studies show there is a link.
The best thing anyone can do is take preventative measures against head injury. This means wearing a seatbelt, driving safely, and staying physically fit. Nerves do have the ability to heal. Seeing a chiropractor, getting massages, practicing good posture, and eating healthy are all ways to improve and support healthy nerve function.
How Chiropractors Can Help
Many car accident victims find seeing a chiropractor helps relieve pain from their injuries. Chiropractors will examine your spine, your muscles, and ask you questions to diagnose any possible neurological disorders.
Questions Your Chiropractor Will Ask:
- Where is the pain located?
- When did it start?
- What was the cause of the pain?
- What does the pain feel like? Is it sharp and sudden? Do you feel numbness or tingling?
- What activities do you find worsen the pain?
- What (if anything) do you find makes the pain better?
Chiropractors are anatomy specialists. They understand what muscles and disks in the spine affect which nerves. They also know how these nerves affect your overall physical, mental, and emotional health. So, if they ask if your digestion bothers you (and you are wondering how they knew that) it's because they have found an area in your back or neck that affects nerves in charge of digestive functions.
Your chiropractor will work with you for as long as you need. It's important to note that no cure exists for more severe cases. However, chiropractors can make pain more manageable and improve your comfort dramatically.
At each visit, your chiropractor will discuss your health and well-being before providing an adjustment on your spine to alleviate compressed disks and relieve pressure on nerves. They may move, stretch, and massage your muscles. Many chiropractors work hand-in-hand with massage therapists to restore balance and good posture to your body.
What to Expect at Your Exam
Many patients who have never visited a chiropractor before worry the experience will be painful or invasive. It's not. It's actually less painful than cracking your knuckles. Your chiropractor is trained professional. They know how to safely restore your posture.
Chiropractors Will Examine:
- Your range of motion
- Your muscle tone, strength, and flexibility
- Any possible neurological dysfunction
Most patients report positive physical relief after the first visit. After time, they also feel the mental and emotional benefits. Although regular visits to a chiropractor are not for everyone, it is highly recommended for victims of a car accident-particularly if they are suffering from whiplash.