When I broadsided a car going 50 miles per hour, I was elated that there was no blood, and we all walked away. A teenager pulled out in front of me, and I was so glad he was OK. But the next day, and the following two years, I was not OK. I suffered severe whiplash, and fell into years of chronic back pain.
The impact of the crash was taken by my arms, which whipped my neck forward and back, the event known as whiplash. Following whiplash, here is what happens.
First, the muscles and ligaments of the neck are torn and traumatized. They become inflamed, and the neck stiffens.
The normal curve in the neck disappears, and the neck bones stack up in a straight line. If the whiplash is severe enough it damages the discs in the neck and the nerves from the spinal cord. Even blood vessels and the bones themselves can be injured. Injury happens to both the back or the front of the neck, depending on whether the neck is thrown forward or back with the most force.
You might walk away from a car accident like I did, but neck pain and neck stiffness increases over the next 24 hours, until it may be impossible to move the neck. Ancillary shoulder pain and mid and lower back pain are common. The arms and hands may tingle and become weak and even numb. After a whiplash injury you may also get headaches, dizziness, facial tingling, hearing problems and throat pain.
After whiplash, my neck was so stiff I could not even look from side to side. And worse, my lower back went into complete spasm, resulting in severe, long-term lower back pain that interfered with living a normal life. Every day was measured by how bad the pain was. I was told I should take pain killers and was a candidate for surgery. Back surgery carries a lot of risk, and pain killers are addictive and a terrible way to live. So instead, I dedicated many years to learning what can be done to recover after an injury. There are, in fact, many ways to reduce or eliminate back pain.
The good news is that much back and neck pain is caused by the soft tissues around the spine, the muscles and ligaments, and those are very treatable. I am able now to manage my spinal pain by attending to 5 things that improve my overall health too: Inflammation, Posture, Muscles, Stress, and Sleep. You can learn what you can do, and what back pain specialists can do to help you. Pain is just a signal that something needs attention.
So, if you could make some adjustments that would reduce or eliminate your back pain, would you do it? Really, think about it. It is possible. There are specific ways to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve posture
- Stretch, strengthen and move the muscles
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
Small things that you do on a daily basis make a big difference. That is my fundamental statement. In addition, I appreciate and use back pain specialists when I need help. I say specialists, because there are many different areas of expertise. Your part is to be committed to healing and taking care of your back. Then you can discover the way to approach your recovery from your car accident or injury.