If you have never been in a car accident before, then you might not realize just how easy it can be to end up with injuries. You might think of a fender-bender as a minor car accident that can’t possibly end up causing you any injuries. However, a general rule of thumb for car accidents is that if your car experienced any damage from the car accident, your body likely did, too. From minor scrapes and bruises to whiplash or a concussion, car accident injuries happen all the time. Two of the most common car accident injuries are whiplash and concussions. In fact, you can even suffer a concussion along with a whiplash injury. Here’s everything you need to know about whiplash and concussion injuries after a car accident.
How & When Can You Get a Concussion from Whiplash?
A whiplash injury can occur with all types of car accidents, though this type of car accident most commonly occurs with rear-end collisions. If another vehicle slams into your car from behind, it could cause your head and neck to snap forward and backward violently. This puts a lot of pressure and stress on the muscles and tendons in your neck, causing them to stretch and strain outside of their typical range of motion. A whiplash injury involves strained or torn muscles and tendons in your neck that can make simple movements more painful, like turning your head from side to side.
While wearing a seatbelt is an important part of helping provide safety restraint for your upper body in a car accident, there is nothing to prevent your head and neck from getting jostled around. The sudden and violent shaking or jostling of your head and neck can also lead to a concussion. A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury, which can happen when your brain collides with part of your skull. In general, your brain is protected by your skull, but sudden, forceful movement can lead to bruising, swelling, or bleeding on the brain. A concussion can occur alongside whiplash because of how violently the impact can cause your head and neck to get jostled around.
What Are the Similarities of Whiplash and a Concussion?
Whiplash and concussion injuries after a car accident can have similar signs and symptoms, which is why it’s important to get checked out by a car accident doctor who knows how to tell the differences. The most obvious symptom of whiplash is neck pain, though you can also experience headaches, tenderness in your neck, and difficulty turning your head from side to side. You may also experience dizziness, nausea, or vomiting if you try to twist or turn your head and neck a certain way. Whiplash can also cause painful tingling and numbness that can extend into your upper body and arms.
A concussion can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on the type and severity of the injury. Some people lose consciousness from a traumatic brain injury like a concussion. If you experienced a loss of consciousness after a car accident, even if only for a few seconds, you should let the paramedics and your car accident doctor know. Concussion symptoms can also include headaches, disorientation, confusion, and dizziness. Some people who suffer a concussion from a car accident may also experience nausea, vomiting, or difficulty with balance. You want to pay attention to any potential cognitive symptoms, like memory problems, uncharacteristic clumsiness, sluggishness, and mood changes. Any potential brain injury should always get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Brain injuries may worsen over time and can be life-threatening. Even if your symptoms are mild, it is always best to get prompt medical treatment to help prevent any complications or life-long damage.
Can You Get a Concussion from Whiplash?
The short answer to whether you can get a concussion from whiplash is yes. The sudden jostling of your head and neck in a car accident can impact the muscles and tendons in the neck, leading to a whiplash injury. At the same time, this jostling can cause your brain to collide with the hard surface of your skull. You could also bump your head against part of the car, like the windshield or dashboard. Even what might seem like a small or minor bump could still be a sign of a concussion in a traumatic event like a car accident. Because your head and neck are left unrestrained in the event of a car accident, both whiplash and concussion injuries are unfortunately common.
Even though these two injuries are different, they can have similar symptoms. You could even suspect you have a whiplash injury but not realize you also have suffered a concussion until you get checked out by a car accident doctor. The quick and jarring forward and back movement caused by the car accident can lead to overstretched or torn ligaments and muscles in your neck that end up causing dull, throbbing headaches at the base of your skull. A sudden blow to the head or severe jostling of your head in a car accident can also cause uncomfortable headaches, which is where a professional team of car accident doctors can help determine the type and severity of your injuries.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Concussion and Whiplash?
You may not be able to recognize the difference between a concussion and whiplash on your own because the signs and symptoms can be similar or even overlap. However, a car accident doctor can diagnose your specific car accident injuries based on your reported symptoms and running diagnostic tests like an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI after the accident. These types of tests and others can help detect potential damage to your muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues, as well as any damage to your brain.
While a whiplash injury primarily causes physical symptoms, a concussion can also lead to cognitive and emotional symptoms like disorientation or mood changes. Because a concussion impacts your brain, it can lead to a wider range of symptoms and affect people in a variety of ways. Mental confusion, brain fog, amnesia, and sudden bursts of anger or irritability can also be signs of a head injury, like a concussion after a car accident. It is also important to note that while you can get a concussion from whiplash after a car accident, not all car accident victims who end up with a whiplash injury also get a concussion.
Whiplash vs. Concussion Symptoms to Look Out For
Here are the most common symptoms to look out for with whiplash and concussion car accident injuries.
- Neck Pain
- Tenderness in Neck and Shoulders
- Reduced Range of Motion
- Tingling & Numbness
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Sensitivity to Light or Sound
- Confusion or Memory Loss
- Loss of Consciousness
How Chiropractic Care Treats Concussion and Whiplash
Car accident chiropractors offer safe and non-invasive treatment options for both concussions and whiplash injuries. Chiropractic care can provide you with an effective treatment plan that helps reduce your pain and headaches, improve your range of motion in your neck, and resolve dizziness and other symptoms of your injuries. At Pro-Care Medical Centers in Austin and San Antonio, our team of car accident doctors works with a team of medical doctors to provide you with quality, comprehensive care so you can make a full recovery from your car accident injuries.