Neck Pain After a Car Accident: How Physical Therapy Can Help

Can a Chiropractor Help With a Pinched Nerve?

Car accidents range from catastrophic events with obvious damage and injuries to seemingly insignificant fender benders. However, all wrecks have the potential to kickstart chronic neck pain, which either never goes away or resurfaces again and again. Thankfully, physical therapy for neck pain might offer the relief you need.

Physical therapy in NJ at clinics like Align Health & Wellness offers treatments after all types of accidents and injuries. Below, the team explores how crafting personalized treatment plans for neck pain could improve your prognosis and comfort.

What Causes Neck Pain After a Car Accident?

When a car collides with another vehicle, the impact causes violent turbulence. As one of the drivers, you might feel the force yank your body back and forth. Since your spine is among the most vulnerable body parts, it naturally moves with this type of impact, and its quick, uncontrollable movements can cause an upper back or neck injury. 

One analysis published by ScienceDirect found that, out of 869,000 annual car accidents, up to 841,000 may result in neck injuries like whiplash. Cervical spine injuries related to accidents include the following:

  • Pinched nerves.
  • Slipped discs.
  • Fractures.
  • Facet joint injuries.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to seek medical help immediately after a car wreck. While you might feel tempted to shrug off the inconvenience, your complete recovery might depend on receiving prompt medical attention so that the doctor can pick up any neck or back-related issues. Many patients reduce the long-term consequences of neck injuries with immediate treatment. 

How to Relieve Neck Pain While You Await Your Appointment

Physical therapy offers a non-invasive, technologically advanced recovery option. You may also need to consider the following options:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Aspirin and ibuprofen can keep discomfort at bay. Be sure your chosen pain relief medication doesn’t interact with prescriptions. 
  • Cold or hot compresses: Heat encourages circulation, while cold fights inflammation. Apply ice immediately after an injury occurs. Switch over to using heat once you start feeling stiffness.
  • Gentle stretching motions: While you want to avoid stressing injured tissues, slow and steady movements encourage circulation. Your PT will provide safe stretching recommendations.
  • Epsom soaks: Dissolve some Epsom salt in a warm bath for relaxation and relief. Soaks of 20 to 30 minutes long may relieve muscle pain.

How Physical Therapy for Neck Pain Heals Injuries

Receiving physical therapy for neck pain can offer effective relief as well as long-term improvements. A Boston University’s Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences article explored PT success rates. It stated that patients suffering from whiplash have a 75 percent rate of treatment success (increasing to 83 percent after eight visits).

Committing to your physical therapist’s at-home recommendations and regularly attending treatment sessions are always helpful. Learn more about recommended physical therapy treatment techniques below.

Therapeutic Exercises and Stretching

A data review in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found evidence that exercise interventions could decrease neck pain episodes throughout 12 months. Physical therapy clinics like Align Health & Wellness have specialized exercise equipment to build your strength because, sometimes, neck discomfort arises from weakened soft tissue.

Allowing your physical therapist to guide you through the workouts can improve circulation and build muscle strength. Your neck may become more flexible with time.

Home Exercise Programs

Once you learn how to properly engage in stretching and exercise routines, it is helpful to take them home with you. Your therapist will craft a home exercise program for consistent strength-building and pain relief so that you can maintain your progress between clinic visits.

Some programs may require inexpensive, accessible equipment, while others use common household objects.

Pain Management and Tissue Mobilization

Is your pain currently too intense to jump into strength and flexibility exercises? Pain relief precedes stretching and moving if you have these limitations. 

Why not work with a physical therapist to choose a strategy that best reduces pain for you? Therapeutic options for neck pain may include:

  • Electrical stimulation: A device sends electrical pulses into the injured tissues to stimulate healing and ease aches.
  • Ultrasound therapy: Directing ultrasound waves into injured tissues reduces pain and swelling for some patients. 
  • Acupuncture: Systematically puncturing the skin with tiny needles can ease discomfort and enhance blood flow to targeted areas. 

Typically, physical therapy techniques are minimally invasive and safe to use in conjunction with other recommended treatments. Just communicate your current regimen with your physical therapist so that they can work with your personalized needs.

Neck Pain Chiropractor West Windsor NJ

Trust Align Health & Wellness for Cutting-Edge New Jersey Physical Therapy Treatments

Physical therapy in New Jersey is just a phone call away at Align Health & Wellness, so book your consultation at 609-799-8444 to start your recovery! Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.

Here are the signs you need a chiropractor after a car accident.

Frequently Asked Questions About Physical Therapy in New Jersey

Our New Jersey physical therapy clinic keeps you in the loop. Stay in the know by going through our patients’ most common questions about physical therapy for neck pain below.

What Exercise Should I Try for Neck Pain?

You should try neck flexions for neck pain. 

  • Lean your chin forward to your chest and hold for several seconds.
  • Then, slowly tilt your head straight back and hold for several more seconds.
  • Repeat.

How Many Weeks of Physical Therapy Do I Need for Neck Pain?

You might need between six and 12 weeks of physical therapy for neck pain. It varies depending on the severity of your injury after the car accident or sports incident.

Should I Stretch My Neck if It Hurts?

Unusually, you can stretch your neck if it hurts (unless otherwise directed by your therapist or doctor). However, you should always avoid overworking your sore neck. Doing so could lead to additional injuries or intensified discomfort.

How Long Is “Too Long” for Neck Pain?

A week or more is too long for neck pain. Seeking physical therapy for neck pain following traffic accidents and other traumatic events immediately may help to prevent chronic pain.

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