Whiplash is one of the most common types of car accident injuries. Whiplash can contribute to neck, shoulder, and back pain. It can also cause fatigue, anxiety, memory issues, headaches, and muscle spasms. Unfortunately, it’s not always apparent that you have whiplash immediately after a car accident. You might feel fine at first, but hours or days later, you might see the telltale signs of whiplash pop up.
That’s why Barry Hughes, DC and our team here at Premier Chiropractic in Pearland, Texas, encourage you to seek chiropractic care as soon as possible if you’ve been in a car accident 一 even if you feel fine.
Below, we explain why some people experience delayed symptoms after a car crash.
Adrenaline: your body’s natural response
When you’re in a car accident (or other potentially dangerous situations) your body releases a sudden surge of adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone designed to shift your body into fight or flight mode. Your body senses danger (in this case, the car accident is the perceived danger) and gives you adrenaline to flee the danger.
In order to help you fight or flee, adrenaline causes several things to happen at once in your body:
- You have increased energy
- You don’t perceive pain (or at least, you perceive less of it)
- Your blood vessels become dilated
- Your airways increase the flow of oxygen
- You possess increased strength due to increased blood flow to your muscles
Simultaneously, your body releases endorphins to help you feel calmer. Like adrenaline, your endorphins influence the way you experience pain and stress. While things are great in the moment and can help you get through a scary moment, you will likely start to feel pain as the adrenaline and endorphins wear off. You may feel nauseous or shaky, too.
Whiplash can appear hours later
The combination of endorphins and adrenaline may mask your initial whiplash symptoms. Additionally, in the hours after your accident, your muscles and ligaments can become increasingly inflamed and stiff.
Other delayed symptoms after a car accident may include blurry vision, dizziness, headaches, nausea, reduced range of motion, numbness in your hands/feet, trouble concentrating, and difficulty sleeping.
Getting Ahead of the Pain
You don’t need to wait until the delayed symptoms emerge. Early treatment gives you an opportunity to get started with treatment as soon as possible. Whiplash treatment plans can include:
- Physical therapy, exercises, and stretches to strengthen the muscles in your neck and improve your range of motion
- Ice and heat therapy, which is especially helpful in the first 24 hours after your accident
- Medication to reduce pain and swelling
- Chiropractic techniques, such as spinal manipulation
- Support devices for short-term usage
Without whiplash treatment, your symptoms may become chronic, but thankfully, early diagnosis and early treatment of whiplash can promote healing and reduce your risks of long-term complications.
If you’ve been in a car accident and suspect you have delayed symptoms, call our Pearland, Texas, office today at 281-223-1172. You may also schedule an appointment via our online portal 24/7.