Rear-end auto accidents are a common type of motor-vehicle accident that can easily cause head and neck injuries to the occupants of both vehicles. If you are involved in this type of accident, it is important to seek prompt treatment, since symptoms can develop later.
Sometimes, the vehicle occupants might decline treatment at the scene of the accident if they do not feel their injures are severe, but this is never a good idea. If you are involved in an auto accident of any sort, it is better to err on the side of caution and be transported to the hospital or visit the emergency room on your own for proper evaluation. Whiplash and certain types of brain injuries are more likely to occur with rear-end collisions because the force of the accident causes the head and neck to snap forward and backward. The same force that contributes to whiplash might also cause a coup-contrecoup brain injury, since the brain will make impact with the skull at the site of impact and the opposite side. At the hospital, your symptoms can be evaluated, and further testing could be necessary if you show any potential for a head or neck injury.
If you were diagnosed with whiplash or sustained a mild concussion from the accident, the major focus will be treating your symptoms. Generally, people with whiplash might wear a cervical collar or otherwise be instructed to limit their neck motion until their pain subsides. Pain medication and muscle relaxers might be given to help with whiplash. At the hospital, doctors may give you an injection of an anesthetic, which can make it easier to perform imaging tests. Both pain medication and muscle relaxers will allow you to be more comfortable in the coming days and weeks as the injury heals. If you had a mild head injury, pain medication might also be prescribed to help with headaches that frequently occur after a concussion.
Although a concussion from the accident will eventually resolve on its own, you might need to rehabilitate your neck if you had whiplash. A chiropractor like those with Physical Rehabilitation Centers is one resource for helping your neck recover from the accident. Treatment might involve manual manipulation to help with tight muscles around the neck, which can improve your neck's range of motion. Additionally, your chiropractor might recommend certain exercises that can help with pain and slowly build strength in your neck as you recover. You can perform neck stretches and range of motion exercise at regular intervals throughout the day, assuming they do not cause unnecessary pain.
The risk of head and neck injuries is high after even minor rear-end auto accidents. Even if you do not feel injured, it is best to be evaluated, just in case symptoms of a concussion or whiplash appear later.