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Car Crashes, Headaches, and Concussions

Welcome to Back to Action Chiropractic & Massage’s website and information page on headaches and concussion following car crash injuries. On this page, we cover quite a bit of information on our survey questions and on car crash injuries in general. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your health, please do not hesitate to contact us at 425-670-2600 We get calls for information on car crash injuries all of the time and we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t let put it off any longer!

Car Crash Survey Question Breakdown:

How soon after the accident did you start having headaches?

Generally speaking, the faster that symptoms arise following a car crash, the worse off you are. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you’re in the clear if a day or two has gone by and you haven’t felt anything yet. Delayed symptoms are extremely common with car crash injuries.
It’s a mistake to think of a car crash injury as an event. It’s really more like a process. For forty eight to seventy two hours after an injury such as a car crash, the injured and torn tissues will begin to swell up with inflammation. It’s very similar to spraining your ankle- you feel the pain right away, but it’s usually the next day that you notice the significant swelling.
The sooner you can catch and treat these symptoms, the better your long term prospects are to avoid permanent damage. So it’s important to get checked for damage by a professional chiropractor as soon as possible following an accident.

How intense are your headaches since the accident?

Intensity of pain is often an indication of severity of injury, but not always. Pain tolerance varies significantly between individuals, and secondary factors like level of emotional stress can also alter a person’s perception of pain. Having no pain, and no loss of function, is the goal of any therapeutic regimen following a car crash.
Even mild pain is an important signal to at least get your spine assessed for damage by a qualified professional. It’s very common for chiropractors to see patients suffering from chronic neck pain caused by an old accident that was never treated. “But it didn’t hurt much at the time!” is something we hear all of the time. Take care of your problems while they’re small.

How often are you having headaches?

Much like intensity, the frequency of headaches can be an indicator of how severe your injuries are. Again, much like intensity, this component of pain is going to vary considerably between individuals with varying levels of pain tolerance, or outside stresses that may be irritating your injury further (such as workplace stresses).

Are you having neck or lower back pain?

While not directly related to concussions, injury to the spine is common from a car crash. Neck injuries in particular are often linked to headaches, so if you’re experiencing headaches since your crash, there’s a good chance your neck has been injured.
Furthermore, any crash that is severe enough to cause neck or lower back pain, has certainly involved sufficient force to potentially cause a concussion. The only way to know is to be examined by a professional.

Have you had any dizziness or lightheadedness since the accident?

Dizziness and lightheadedness are common signs of a concussion. Concussions are caused by the soft brain, which floats in fluid, suddenly slamming up against the hard bony interior of the skull. This is caused by very rapid, abrupt movements, like a car crash.
Concussions are nothing to play around with. If you have been experiencing these sorts of symptoms since a car crash, be sure to contact our office immediately to get your injuries assessed.

Have you had any vision troubles since the accident?

Along with dizziness or lightheadedness, any sort of vision trouble, whether it be trouble focusing, blurred vision, or the like, are strong indicators for a potential concussion. Do not ignore these kinds of signs and symptoms.

Have you had any anxiety or trouble concentrating since the accident?

Emotional and mental health symptoms are very common after a car crash. These symptoms can range from an anxiety about driving (or even riding in a car), to generalized anxiety (where you are anxious but can’t identify a specific trigger), insomnia, restlessness, or even depression.
Memory loss, trouble concentrating, or feeling of lightheadedness are also potential signs of a concussion and should not be ignored.
If you’ve noticed any changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, difficulty with memory, or other mental or emotional issues since your accident, these are strong indicators of injury and require follow up with a qualified professional.

Are you having any weakness (grip strength, etc) since the accident?

A common symptom caused by damage to the neck, is weakness in the muscles of the arms or hands. In this case, the nerve that controls the muscle leaves the spinal cord in the neck to travel down the arm to the muscle in question. If the area of the neck where the nerve leaves the spinal column is damaged, as you might imagine, there can be a “choking off” of the nerve supply to that muscle.
Loss of grip strength is a common sign of muscle weakness following a car crash, often manifesting as occasionally dropping objects. However, loss of muscle strength can be subtle, and may only show up during a comprehensive examination. It is a strong sign that there has been a significant injury to the neck.

Did you hit anything on the inside of the car (steering wheel, etc.)?

It isn’t just whiplash, or being shaken back and forth that can cause injury. Many people hit the steering wheel, or sometimes their head on the window next to them, or something else in the car depending on their position in the car when the impact occurred.
You might not even remember it happening. Car crashes are so abrupt and sudden, and people’s memories are so often affected by the trauma, that many people cannot remember whether or not they hit something on the inside of the vehicle.

Do you have any areas of pain or numbness in your arms or legs?

The nerves that sense touch, pressure, and temperature in your arms and legs travel back into the neck and lower back before rejoining the spinal cord and going up to the brain. Therefore, damage where a particular nerve enters the spine, can create the sensation of pain going down the arm or leg, even if there is no damage to the arm or leg itself.
The areas of the body supplied by various nerves are called dermatomes, and pain in a particular area can actually tell your doctor just where in the spine your injury may be. These symptoms are called radiating symptoms and they indicate significant levels of damage. Radiating symptoms should not be taken lightly and should be assessed as quickly as possible by a qualified chiropractor in order to correct the damage and restore full function.
Radiating symptoms can also be numbing in nature. In other words, rather than activating sensation that isn’t there, the sensation is now being “choked off” and can’t reach the brain.
Just like the radiating pain, numbness is a strong indication of significant damage to the spine and needs to be professionally checked as soon as possible to minimize long term effects.

How old are you?

Pre-existing conditions can weaken the spine and making one susceptible to greater injury. Along with prior injuries, the most common source of a spine more likely to be injured, is age.
Simply put, the more years, the more mileage, and the more likely that some level of wear and tear type damage has accumulated in the protective structures of the spine.
An easy way to visualize this is to picture two people in a crash: an eighteen year old and an eighty year old. Which person, all other things being equal, is more likely to be injured in that crash?
As we get older, it also becomes harder to recover from injuries received in a car crash, and therefore even more important to address any potential causes for concern.

Do you notice that you can’t turn your head or bend or twist at the waist as far as you could before the accident?

One of the classic signs of a car crash injury is a loss of range of motion, which is a fancy way of saying that you can’t turn your head or twist at the waist or bend forward or backwards as far as you normally can.
Damage to the facet joints of the spine- the pair of joints at each vertebrae where the movement occurs- leads to muscle spasms in the back that essentially “lock down” the injured area and restrict movement. As this damage is repaired with chiropractic adjustments, the muscle spasm eases and you can once again move the way you could before the injury.
Damage to the joints of the neck often goes hand in hand with headaches. Therefore, if you find you can’t move your neck as far as you could after an accident, and you’re having headaches as well, it’s a very clear sign that your car crash has caused an injury that needs to be assessed.

Do you ever get any pain in the neck or back when you cough or sneeze?

Pain in the spine when one coughs or sneezes is a potential sign of disc injury. The intervertebral discs are spacers between the bones of the spine made of cartilage and soft tissue. When injured, they can bulge outward, putting pressure on nerves and causing significant pain.
Disc injuries are serious but treatable. However, ignoring these kinds of symptoms puts one at risk of making the disc injury worse with time, possibly leading to a need for surgical intervention. Many disc injuries can be handled non-surgically if discovered and treated soon enough.
While disc injuries are not directly related to concussion, a disc injury in the spine is an indicator that you have endured a significant trauma, one that is certainly sufficient to potentially cause a concussion.

Have you had anxiety or trouble sleeping since the accident?

Emotional and mental health symptoms are very common after a car crash. These symptoms can range from an anxiety about driving (or even riding in a car), to generalized anxiety (where you are anxious but can’t identify a specific trigger), insomnia, restlessness, or even depression.
If you’ve noticed any changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, difficulty with memory, or other mental or emotional issues since your accident, these are strong indicators of injury.

Thanks for taking the time to fill out our survey. We understand that a lot of time, the not knowing how bad things are or what can be done about it can be almost overwhelming. And nobody wants to be in a car crash, obviously, and deal with the hassle of not only getting their car repaired, but getting their body repaired as well.
We get it. That’s why we go out of our way to make it as easy as possible to get checked out for any possible injuries your crash may have caused, and to get you back into the game of life as quickly and fully as possible.

We do hope that filling out our survey and reviewing it on this page has pointed out the importance of getting yourself assessed for injuries as early as possible. Our comprehensive exam will not only get you on the right track to recovery, but give you peace of mind as well that no hidden injuries are going to cause problems for you in the future.
If you’re concerned about cost (and of course you are, we call are!), we do want you to know that auto insurance does cover injuries sustained in a car crash. So even if you don’t have private insurance, if you have car insurance, you have coverage for any injuries sustained in a car crash. That means, don’t let financial concerns hold you back from getting checked. Better safe than sorry.
If you’re still concerned, don’t hesitate to give us a call and we’ll discuss this with you in detail as much as you need to discuss it. We are absolutely committed to insuring that you feel comfortable with any care that you receive in our office. The last thing we want is for you to feel like you’re going to be ambushed with a bill that you didn’t expect, so please, let us go over this with you over the phone as much as you need to. Call our office at 425-670-2600 right now, before something else grabs your attention, and we’ll walk you through this step by step so you can have the confidence of knowing that you’re in the right hands.
Want More Information?
We offer a complimentary, in-depth report on car crashes, FREE to anyone who has the need for this information. Our report extensively covers the kinds of injuries sustained in a car crash, the short and long term health implications of those injuries, and how those injuries are addressed.
We understand that the “not knowing” part of being injured is, often, the most frustrating aspect of a car crash injury. So, our office is happy to provide this information free of charge to give you some piece of mind and allow you to make the best possible decisions regarding your health.
Simply click here and we’ll email you our in-depth report, free of charge and with no obligation whatsoever.