Why Minor Car Accidents And Headaches Seem To Go Together

When the car behind you hit your bumper, it felt like a simple tap. You both looked at the cars and determined that the damage was just a scratch and decided to ignore it and go about your day. A few days later you have an intense headache. The delayed response to a head trauma is common and something that your local chiropractor specializes in treating. Here is why this happens and how to get help for it. 

Your Body's Natural Response to Injury

During the minor accident, your head was forced backward, then forward again. This stressed the muscles in your neck and upper back, and made small tears in the muscle fibers. The torn and stretched muscles became inflamed which held them in place to prevent further injury. As the swelling went down, you began to feel pain from the irritation to the nerves traveling through the muscles and into your head. The result is headache and neck pain several days after the accident. This is what people refer to as a whiplash injury.

Treatment of a Whiplash

Chiropractors understand the close relationship between the muscles and nerves in your neck and upper back. They are trained in techniques to reduce the inflammation and stiffness in your neck and get rid of your headaches. They can offer several soft-tissue treatments, done as an outpatient, to reduce the pain and support the healing after an accident.

Spinal Manipulation

If there was a twisting motion of your neck as your head was forced back and forth, the first two vertebrae in your upper spine may have become misaligned. Chiropractors refer to this as a subluxation and it's a subtle change that sometimes can be seen on an X-rays, but can often can be felt by your doctor. The misalignment contributes to the irritation of the muscles and nerves in your upper back and neck. Gentle manipulation of the spine repositions the vertebrae into their proper positions, allowing the muscles to relax again.

Active Release Techniques

Your doctor will identify the muscles that were strained by feeling for warm, tight areas around your neck. They will massage those muscles in the direction that they normally move to get them to relax. Once relaxed, the inflammation goes down and your headaches will go away.

Myofascial Release Techniques

Should muscles in your neck become so tense that they create knots under the skin and produce spasms, the chiropractor can apply steady pressure to the tense muscles, exhausting their ability to stay tense, and causing them to relax. Again, the inflammation goes down and your headaches disappear.

Until your neck pain begins and the headaches start, there is little you can do to prevent the pain. As soon as it does start, see a chiropractor (such as one from Gillette Chiropractic Center) to get rid of the muscle tension and nerve irritation which produce your headaches.