Cuts, scrapes, and even broken bones are more obvious types of car accident injuries. But what about when you can’t see an obvious injury and still don’t feel right? One of the most common car accident injuries is whiplash, and many symptoms of whiplash aren’t obvious or don’t show up right away. You might think your soreness, headaches, or back pain are a normal part of your car accident injury, but these can actually be signs that something more serious is going on. Especially if you feel a tingling sensation in your back, you might actually have a pinched nerve and should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve
A pinched nerve is a more common name for what is medically known as nerve compression. When a nerve in your back is compressed or pinched, it can cause pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling. The tingling sensation can sometimes feel like “pins and needles”, like when you’ve sat with your legs crossed for too long and your foot “fell asleep”.
You might feel pain right in the area where the nerve is pinched, but you could also experience what is called radiating pain, meaning the pain may start in your back but shoot down through your hip and down your leg. You may notice these symptoms right after the accident, or some of these symptoms may be more obvious when you turn, twist, or move a certain way.
Car Accident Injuries and Pinched Nerves
Most common car accident injuries occur when the force of the accident can cause your body to move into uncomfortable positions. Here are a few common injuries that can cause a pinched nerve and tingling sensations.
The spinal column houses the nervous system, which is a series of connected nerves that sends signals to the rest of your body. When any damage occurs to your spine, it can also cause damage to your nervous system. In the event of a serious car injury, your seat belt and airbag might not be enough to protect your body and your back can sustain damage. Any bruises, scrapes, or muscle pains in your back can be a sign of a spine injury and should be checked out by a doctor.
Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries. Whiplash injury happens when the force of the accident causes your head to jerk forward and backward, straining your neck muscles out of their normal range of motion. When your neck muscles are strained and unable to properly support your spine, the vertebrae and discs separating them can experience damage. Inflammation of strained muscles or a slipped disc in your neck can put pressure on nearby nerves and cause pain and a tingling sensation.
A herniated disc can happen when whiplash causes the soft, cushioning disc that separates the vertebrae in your neck to be damaged or knocked out of place. When the disc is out of its proper position, it can press on a nerve and lead to pinched nerve symptoms. Blunt-force trauma from a car accident can also lead to a herniated disc. When too much pressure is applied to the nerve, it cannot function properly and leads to pain, numbness, and tingling.
Self-Care and Monitoring Tingling Sensations
It is important to seek medical treatment after a car accident, no matter how small your symptoms may be. There are many hidden injuries that can creep up in the hours and days after an accident, once the shock wears off and any swelling goes down. But if you decide to wait out your symptoms because they seem mild, it is important to go to the doctor if you notice your pain and tingling sensations do not go away after a few days.
If the pinched nerve damage is mild, your doctor may be able to recommend some at-home treatments to help relieve the symptoms. Your tingling sensations may go away after a few days of rest and mild pain relievers. Your doctor may also recommend alternating ice and heat therapies on strained muscles supporting your spine to help with inflammation and pain management.
Treatment for a Pinched Nerve
Some cases of nerve compression will require a trip to the doctor for some medical interventions to help relieve a pinched nerve. A chiropractor can assess your spine and help correct any imperfections in your posture that may be putting pressure on your nerve. An orthopedic doctor can also review how damage to your spine and muscles may lead to a pinched nerve. The multi-specialty team of doctors at AICA Orthopedics can diagnose and treat a variety of car accident injuries and help relieve your pain and tingling sensations so you can get back to your daily routines. Call us now.