Back pain of any kind can be extremely frustrating. It can rear its ugly head at any time and significantly affect your ability to function, perform daily tasks, or even work. Unfortunately, car accidents are a common cause of back pain.
The blunt force trauma the body suffers from a car accident can cause damage to the spine, muscles, soft tissue, or other parts of the back. While you can walk away from a car accident feeling just fine, it may be days or weeks later when you begin to feel pain and discomfort. This type of delayed back pain is common among those who suffer from car accidents. Knowing what to do when back pain occurs is the first step in helping you recover faster. When signs of back pain begin to develop, seek medical care immediately to take control of your pain and health before they take control of you.
Why Am I Experiencing Delayed Pain?
If you have been involved in a car accident, then you know what a stressful event it can be. During times of stress, the body goes into a fight-or-flight response. This means that the body releases significant amounts of adrenaline and endorphins at the time of a car accident. While this can be helpful in getting you through the initial accident, it can also be the cause of delaying symptoms of pain. These chemicals that are released actually give you energy and block pain. So if you don’t have any visible injuries, you may not recognize that you are actually injured at all. It is not until later, when the adrenaline and endorphins begin to subside, that the full extent of your injuries may be felt. So while the injury was there all along, you won’t actually experience pain until much later, thus the reason why it is called delayed back pain.
Delayed Pain After an Accident
One of the most common complaints after a car accident is back pain. In a car crash, the back often absorbs most of the impact. While the spine, spinal fluid, and discs are meant to absorb shock, too much at one time will cause damage. There are many injuries that can occur as a result of trauma from a car accident. Some of the most common injuries that will occur are as follows.
As a result of a car accident, the body is violently jerked forward and then slammed backward. This motion, known as whiplash, can lead to neck, shoulder, and back pain. Unlike other injuries, whiplash can occur in even the smallest of fender benders. The whiplash force can stretch and tear tendons in the neck and down the spine. It can also cause damage to joints and discs in the spine and back. Most often, symptoms of whiplash aren’t felt until 24 hours after an accident. In most cases, whiplash symptoms will go away over time with rest, hot and cold compresses, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. More severe cases of whiplash may require further treatment such as physical therapy, neck injections, pain medication and management, or in rare cases, surgery.
Degenerative disc disease
Discs are located between the vertebrae of the spine and act as a cushion or shock absorber between the two vertebrae, allowing you to bend, twist, and move. The impact of a car accident can cause damage to these discs in that it can cause them to become out of place, pinch, deteriorate or even tear and leak spinal fluid.
Degenerative disc disease can include several conditions, such as spinal stenosis, bone spurs, pinched nerve, sciatica, osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative scoliosis, or herniated discs. Herniated discs are discs that have slipped or are bulging, which can cause them to compress a nearby nerve. This can be a root cause of back pain, especially after experiencing trauma such as a car accident. Over time, herniated discs may worsen, meaning symptoms of numbness, tingling, or pain will become more and more frequent. Seeing a medical professional as soon as the symptoms begin to address the problem quickly and keep it from worsening.
Strained, torn, or pulled muscles
Another injury that can occur as a result of a car accident is a strained, torn, or pulled muscle. This type of injury can cause all sorts of pain, such as soreness in the lower back, stiffness, muscle spasms, muscle or tendon weakness, pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs, or pain when standing, walking, or twisting. Surprisingly, this type of injury can be quite severe. It can take up to 6 weeks of treatment to fully heal.
Spinal cord injuries
One of the most serious injuries that can occur as a result of an accident is a spinal cord injury. When a spinal cord injury occurs, it can cause long-term damage. Spinal cord injuries can lead to infection, spinal fluid leaks, blood clots, chronic pain, or other serious medical conditions.
Facet joint spine injuries
The joints in the spine are surrounded by nerves and are responsible for controlling the movement of the body. Damage to any facet joints can be especially painful because of the many nerves surrounding the joints.
With the help of imaging equipment such as CT scans (a series of fast X-Ray pictures put together to create an image of the scanned area), X-Rays (a photographic image used to take a closer look at bones, joints, or soft tissue), or MRIs (a high resolution inside image of the body), or other types of testing medical professionals are better able to diagnose and treat back injuries to provide relief from pain.
What To Do After an Accident
The aftermath of an accident can leave those involved feeling overwhelmed and confused as to what steps to take next. But it is important to know what to do after an accident to take care of yourself.
- Assess your injuries – Always prioritize medical care above anything else. Report the accident to the police.
- See the doctor immediately – If You have minor injuries, you may wonder if you actually need to go to the doctor.
- It is always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor after an accident in order to diagnose any injuries, especially potential delayed injuries sooner rather than later.
- If you still experience symptoms of delayed pain days or weeks after an accident, it is advisable to go back to the doctor to get checked out again. Different types of doctors can treat back pain, such as general practitioners, orthopedic doctors, or chiropractors. At the doctor’s office, you will receive a full examination. The doctor will ask several questions and order testing to identify injuries and create a treatment plan. Provide as many details as you can about the accident in order to help the doctor accurately diagnose your injuries.
- Follow the advised treatment plan – For best results, always follow the doctor’s orders. Doctors at AICA in Marietta are experienced in dealing with delayed back pain injuries and will customize a treatment plan for your injury. For the best chance of feeling and to minimize long-term effects, follow this customized plan, even if your back pain begins to feel better. If your back isn’t fully healed before you quit treatment, you run the risk of re-injury and greater pain and discomfort.
Step To Take For Delayed Back Pain
You use your back all day long, whether you realize it or not. You use it when sitting, standing, lifting, and moving. All the tendons, muscles, and ligaments in the back work hard every day to allow you to function as normal. Back pain, no matter how small, should not be overlooked. The spinal cord actually plays an important part in how the body functions as a whole, so you will want to be sure to take immediate steps for back pain after an accident. When delayed back pain occurs, there are six key steps you can take immediately after a car accident injury.
- Schedule an appointment with a medical professional –
- One of the first and most important steps to take for delayed back pain is to contact your doctor.
- While you may not feel your injury is significant, there could be more going on than you realize.
- Having a doctor provide a thorough examination and proper diagnosis as to what is the source of your back pain can aid in creating a treatment plan and will alleviate back pain altogether. Your health is important, and addressing back pain right away can be the key to recovery and returning to normal life once again.
- Ice and /or Heat Treatment – Soon after your back injury occurs, begin an ice and heat regimen. Only use ice for the first 72 hours after the injury.
- After that, apply heat to the injured area. This combination of ice and heat will help to loosen up injured muscles and reduce inflammation all at the same time. A typical regimen is ice for 15-20 minutes and then heat for 15-20 minutes. Ice heat therapy is a great way to find temporary relief for back pain.
- Stretch and exercise – Muscle pain will only worsen without movement. Stretching and performing gentle exercises are both great ways to loosen stiff muscles and improve back pain over time. It is not advisable to start an exercise routine on your own.
- To avoid further injury, first, be sure to talk with your doctor or physical therapist about what type of stretches and exercises would be best for your type of car accident injury.
- Participate in active activity – Your regular exercise routine will most likely have to be limited so as to avoid reinjuring your back, but that doesn’t mean you should stop all physical activity altogether. Some rest may be good for the healing process, but sitting or resting for long periods of time can actually be detrimental and slow healing.
- Walking and moving are light activities that you can do to keep up activity levels. But it is probably best to avoid such activities as heavy lifting and contact sports while recovering from an injury.
- Avoid eating too many carbohydrates – Carbohydrates may not seem to have anything to do with back pain, but they can actually increase inflammation, causing increased pain. Eat more protein and fruits and fewer carbs while your car accident injury is healing to help ease pain and find relief.
Comprehensive Care All in One Place
With so many steps to take after suffering from a car accident injury, the many appointments and treatment needs can begin to pile up. But it doesn’t have to feel this way. With AICA in Marietta, you can find all you need for treatment and healing in one convenient location. See a doctor, undergo imaging tests, receive a diagnosis and treatment plan, and begin that treatment plan all in one place.
At AICA, our physical therapists, pain management specialists, chiropractors, and orthopedic doctors are also here to aid in your recovery process after an accident. There is no more need to drive to many different doctors in many different places to try to receive proper treatment and care. It is already hard enough to deal with the pain of a car accident injury, so there is no need to make it more difficult. With the services provided at AICA Marietta by doctors who are experienced in treating car accident injuries and back pain, you are sure to find all you require.
The back is a complex system of bones, nerves, and soft tissue. It is vulnerable to injury in the event of a car accident. Delayed back pain will only complicate your recovery process if not dealt with. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident and is experiencing delayed back pain, find relief by working with our skilled medical professional at AICA. Contact us today to schedule your appointment and begin the road to recovery.