Car accidents are notorious for causing all types of damage. While the most visible damages are that to the vehicle, automobile wrecks also produce injuries to the body and mind. One of the most common injuries is whiplash, a sudden neck jerk due to irregular trauma and force. Unfortunately, like other injuries sustained during a car wreck or fender bender, whiplash symptoms may not be felt for days after the accident.
Remember, car accidents carry a great deal of force that can severely injure the body’s muscles, tendons, joints, and bones. Depending on the severity of the injury, you may be rushed to an ER room via ambulance for life-saving treatments. However, if your injuries tend to set in days after the incident due to adrenaline levels wearing off, a professional pain management specialist is someone you should consider. These experts treat the pain and gradually get car accident victims back on their feet with combined massages, adjustments, and rehabilitative therapies.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration, an automobile crash happens every 60 seconds. This equates to around 5.25 million accidents per year across the nation. With more motorists on the road each day, you have a one-in-five chance of being involved in a car accident and getting injured. With this in mind, it’s essential to understand the types of injuries that can occur if you are involved in a collision.
Soft tissue injuries
As mentioned above, whiplash symptoms may not be felt until days after the accident. However, neck tension, stiffness, and discomfort are the three most common symptoms of whiplash. In addition, you may experience sprains and even micro-tears (strains) to the muscles and ligaments. These strains can be especially painful and will take several weeks to recover.
A pain management doctor can examine the neck to check if it is out of alignment. They will also perform hands-on adjustments and treatments that realign the neck and reduce swelling or inflammation. Then, with a personalized care plan to meet each patient’s individual needs, your pain management professional will analyze the injury at hand and offer the best and safest treatment options.
Even small fender-benders can result in bruises and contusions. These mainly stem from the victim slamming into the seat belt during the accident. While seat belts are certainly lifesavers, they can bruise the chest, arms, and neck bones due to irregular force and impact. If you have sustained black and blue marks or bruises in a collision, you will feel some pain and stiffness over the next few days. However, these discolorations are rarely life-threatening and usually heal within a week or two. If the pain and stiffness continue to persist after this time, you may need immediate medical attention. Scheduling an appointment with a pain management specialist is the best way to get on the right track to healing these injuries and getting your mobility and flexibility back.
3. Neck and Back Injuries
Like whiplash, neck and back injuries are caused by rapid force during accidents. As a result, they may cause severe damage to the body that is not immediately visible. For example, disc herniations can result from spinal injuries that are painful and limit your mobility. If neck or back pain continues after several days, consult with a pain management physician right away.
These experts perform spinal decompression treatments that retract the herniated or bulging discs back to normal, functional settings. They will also free the built-up tension in the nerves, allowing you to move the neck again freely. Physical therapy is also essential in regaining your mobility and balance after neck or back injuries have occurred. It does take time to heal from neck and back injuries, so follow your doctor’s care plan accordingly.
Concussions occur from mild blows to the head. For example, you may or may not lose consciousness if your head hits the interior of the car during a collision. However, symptoms may range from migraines, mental confusion, and lack of coordination to memory loss. You can also experience dizziness, ear ringing, nausea, insomnia, and excessive fatigue.
Depending on the severity of the crash, you may be rushed to an ER room for immediate emergency care. Remember, prompt medical attention for head trauma is crucial in treating visible injuries and preventing them from worsening. In addition, these treatments will alleviate headaches and help restore the brain to its healthy state. As always, the appropriate medical team will take neurological scans and imaging to determine the best routes for medical action.
5. Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. These injuries change how your brain functions and processes both information and emotions. Therefore, brain scans, CT scans, and neurological tests are performed to check the injury level and the patient’s cognizance. While victims can indeed recover from brain trauma to some level, it will depend on the severity of the damages present. Sadly, some car accident suffers with brain injuries may need life-long treatments while others gradually recover over time.
6. Internal Bleeding
The human body consists of several delicate organs. The impact of a car accident may cause these life-support systems to bleed. These injuries are automatically considered life-threatening and treated in ER or surgery rooms. Time is of the essence, so the ER physician and surgeon work hand-in-hand with rapid scans, imaging, analysis, and expedited surgical procedures.
The surgeon will stop the internal bleeding during a procedure where the patient is sedated. The post-recovery timetables vary – as each car accident victim’s injuries are unique and require personalized care. The surgeon will then follow up with the patient on what to do once they awake. As always, the ER physician, surgeon, and medical team will keep your primary care doctor in the loop regarding the life-saving treatments, surgery, and post-op protocols.
7. Broken Bones
The impact of a car accident puts your skeletal system at risk of injury. This is because your body may hit parts of the vehicle, causing broken bones and related issues. Hair-line fractures or clean breaks can also happen and require surgery to set the bones. Hardware may even be placed to help your bones heal. Of course, this all depends on the type of break sustained and how long the presiding physician feels it will heal.
Wearing a plaster cast or splint is usually one of the treatments for broken bones. This immobilizes the bone and lets it heal naturally over weeks. With broken bones, several medical professionals can be involved in the treatment and healing process. These include trauma surgeons, emergency medicine physicians, physical therapists, pain management doctors, orthopedists, and PCPs who act as organizers for their patient’s medical care and treatments.
Emotional and Mental Injuries
8. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Our bodies and minds are not designed to handle extreme stress. Such is the case in car accidents, which cause emotional damages with physical injuries. As a result, some victims experience Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as they relive the incident in their minds. Symptoms include being afraid of driving after an accident, along with insomnia, anxiety, and even depression.
Treatment options for automobile-accident PTSD include speaking with psychologists and therapists. These mental health experts can help you cope and eventually overcome the fear of getting behind the wheel again. They may also prescribe medicines that combat PTSD and symptoms like anxiety and sleeplessness.