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How Can You Avoid Chronic Neck Pain After An Auto Accident?

by Stella Robinson

Even minor fender-benders don't guarantee a pain-free recovery. In fact, low-speed impacts can often pose more problems for motorists than higher-speed collisions, which are more likely to prompt a medical examination. Without proper treatment and therapy, you could be at risk of long-term problems stemming from a seemingly insignificant auto accident. Read on to learn more about how you can avoid—and treat—minor neck and soft-tissue injuries sustained in an auto accident.

What Risks Come From a Low-Speed Accident?

Whenever your vehicle collides with a fixed object, your head is thrust sharply forward and then back again. In low-speed accidents, this whip-like motion may go unnoticed, especially if you're focused on the other vehicle or are trying to assess the condition of any passengers in your own vehicle.

Many drivers, seeing that there was only minor damage sustained and no one is bleeding or appears seriously injured, may simply generate a police report of the accident and head on their way. But over the next few days, you may experience tenderness and soreness in your neck, jaw, or upper shoulders as a result of whiplash.   

Whiplash isn't necessarily dangerous in and of itself. Often, any pain experienced is due only to the stretching sensation your neck muscles have gone through, which will usually resolve itself on its own within a few days.

But in other cases, this back-and-forth motion may be enough to slightly change the way your vertebrae are positioned. If any nerves are caught or pinched between your vertebrae, you could find yourself quickly developing serious pain, numbness, or tingling sensations in your neck and extremities. Without treatment, this compression may permanently damage your spinal vertebrae, nerves, and even your spinal cord.    

What Are Your Best Treatment Options?

It's usually a good idea to have yourself checked out by a doctor or chiropractor a few days after your accident, even if you feel fine. The doctor will be able to palpate your neck and spine to determine whether there have been any structural changes since your last visit. If so, you may need to undergo a chiropractic adjustment or seek physical therapy to move your vertebrae (and the nerves they're pinching) back into a more appropriate and comfortable position.

Depending upon who was at-fault in the accident and how the insurance laws in your state govern medical payments, you may be able to have any doctor's visits, chiropractic adjustments, or car accident physical therapy sessions covered by your auto insurance policy (or the other driver's policy). Don't let worries about medical bills prevent you from seeking treatment.