If you get in a car crash, you may experience numerous forms of pain. Whiplash (injury to the neck most commonly experienced when victims are rear-ended) is one source of pain that can result (1). Often when you are hurt, the injured body part makes itself known immediately; or if not, then soon afterward, once any shock symptoms have lifted.
However, pain and soreness following auto accidents do not always make themselves immediately known. In many cases, victims experience a similar phenomenon that can occur two or three days after a strenuous workout. Pain in the fibers of the body that arises after a window, and does not indicate injury, is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (2) DOMS usually lasts 48 hours or so.
Back pain and other types of pain following car crashes can be similar to DOMS: the pain is slow to surface. However, unlike DOMS, accident pain does not quickly subside.
Car Accident Pain: Trauma & The Body
In an accident, whiplash and other types of stress on the body create physical trauma. Chemicals such as adrenaline and endorphins are released in huge quantities to keep the mind and body functional during the aftermath of the crash. The downside of that rush of chemicals is that it blankets the perception of pain, so a victim often does not realize at that point the extent of his/her injuries.
Neck pain and other physical aches become known once those chemicals subside and the body returns to its normal condition, called homeostasis. Once the body stabilizes, any areas of muscular damage begin to experience inflammation. When the body becomes substantially inflamed, pain hits a crescendo, and the groundwork is laid for long-term pain.
Car Accident Pain: Importance of Quick Response
Many of us do not respond wisely to pain signals, believing that ignoring back pain or other aches is a sign of strong character or selflessness. However, pain left unattended creates scar tissue and fibrotic adhesions. These types of tissue exacerbate inflammation, decrease range of motion, and lead to a cycle of chronic pain that is difficult to escape.
Our advice: Following an accident, you should assume back pain or other injuries may have resulted, even if you don’t feel anything. You should be assessed by healthcare professionals, so that you are able to immediately begin a treatment plan of physical therapy, chiropractic care, or acupuncture as needed. Request a free consultation now.