Even at low speeds, automobile accidents can cause injuries to the neck and back. Headaches are common after automobile accidents with speeds as little as 5mph. How? It is a matter of basic math and physics. It goes something like this: You take an object such as an SUV weighing 5000 lbs. You take another object such as a car weighing 4000 lbs. The two vehicles have a collision at a speed of 8 mph. Any objects inside of the vehicles accelerate far greater than the speed of the vehicle at impact. So if the vehicle is moving at 8 mph, an individual inside the vehicle may accelerate after impact to approximately 15 mph and the neck of that individual may accelerate to approximately 25 mph.
The body’s reflexes respond to this acceleration by tightening the muscles in the neck in an attempt to stabilize and protect the muscles, the nerves and the spinal cord in the neck. This creates a whiplash effect which can cause significant injury in both low and high speed auto accidents (1).
Often times you will come away from an auto accident feeling stunned and a little sore, but will not have significant pain. The next day you may feel some neck and/or back pain. Then a few days later the headaches may begin. This is called Delayed Onset of Symptoms. There is an abundant amount of medical literature describing Delayed Onset of Symptoms (2). This type of presentation of symptoms is very common, very insidious, and needs to be treated in a timely manner.
These delayed symptoms need to be taken seriously and may indicate a significant injury. Many of my patients are taken to the emergency room following a motor vehicle accident where Xrays are taken. Most of the time, the Xrays do not show any broken bones. The ER diagnosis typically is Sprain/Strain and the patient is released with pain and muscle relaxer medications.
The emergency room is designed to treat emergencies. Once they establish that you are not in a critical or intensive state, you are released. By no means does this mean you are well. A follow up with your doctor or with a doctor that specializes in motor vehicle accident injuries is important.
At Monmouth Spine and Rehabilitation Center, our team of doctors are highly trained to treat New Jersey auto accident injuries. We treat auto accidents on a regular basis and have since 1998. We are a primary care facility located in Red Bank New Jersey and you do not need a referral to make an appointment. If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, do not hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation.
1 – A Distinct Pattern of Myofascial Findings in Patients After Whiplash Injury
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume 89, Issue 7, July 2008, p 1290-1293
2 – Delayed-onset post-traumatic headache after a motor vehicle collision: a case report
Maja Stupar, BSc, DC and Peter SY Kim, BSc, DC, FCCS(C)*
* Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Division of Clinical Education, 6100 Leslie Street, Toronto, ON M2H 3J1
Corresponding Author: Maja Stupar BSc, DC, 115–140 Leeward Glenway, Toronto, ON M3C 2Y9 Tel: (416) 587-4740.