According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injuries in the United States. If you are involved in a car accident, it’s critical to seek treatment if you are experiencing any signs of pain and visit a chiropractor for long-term care. Knowing what to expect physically after an accident can lead to a more efficient and effective recovery process.
Neck and Head Injuries
Car accidents often blindside their victims and jolt their bodies in unnatural ways causing physical damage to their neck and head. A common side effect of an accident is whiplash, caused by an extreme and sudden jerk to the head. Someone who has been in a crash may experience this in the form of extreme neck strain caused by muscles and tendons that have stretched too far as a result of the force. Other symptoms of whiplash include headaches, tenderness and a decreased range of mobility in the neck.
Car accidents are also a leading cause for concussions. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a severe force to the head that causes the brain to move. The rapid movement to the brain causes chemical changes, often damaging brain cells. Concussions are sometimes thought of as minor injuries, but their side effects can be serious if not treated properly.
The immediate and sudden impact of a crash isn’t the only factor in physical injuries. Broken glass and other objects are often ejected toward passengers causing facial lacerations. This occurs when an object penetrates the face with enough force to cut through the skin. The most serious of facial lacerations can damage the nerves and blood vessels in the face.
Back Injuries from Car Accidents
Due to the seated position of drivers and passengers in cars, back injuries commonly result from accidents. In the U.S., car accidents are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Side effects from an injury to the spinal cord can include uncomfortable tingling or burning sensations, a loss of muscle function and involuntary muscle movement. If not treated promptly, spinal cord injuries can occasionally lead to paraplegia.
Herniated discs are another common back injury after car accidents. The spine is surrounded by small discs that work as shock absorbers for spinal bones. A sudden force to the back can fragment one of these discs, jolting it into the spinal canal to cause a herniated disc. Symptoms of a herniated disc include back spasms, difficulty breathing and a loss of movement below the injury. In the case of a back injury, a chiropractor can expedite the recovery process by assisting in treating spinal injuries and herniated discs resulting from an accident.
Broken bones also fall under the category of injuries in which car accidents are a leading cause. Broken bones are categorized differently depending on their severity and range from greenstick fractures, in which the bone is not completely separated, to comminuted fractures, in which the bone is completely broken in three or more places. Depending on the severity of an accident, a passenger could suffer injuries ranging from a broken finger to a broken pelvis bone. Signs of a broken bone include swelling or bruising and increasing pain in the area.
Seeking Help after a Car Accident
While car accidents can occasionally cause lasting emotional pain and trauma, they often result in physical pain in the immediate aftermath. Anyone involved in a car accident who feels any sort of physical pain should seek out medical attention immediately.
For car accidents in particular, a chiropractor can be invaluable in helping to alleviate pain and repair damaged muscles and tendons. The more quickly a proper diagnosis can be made, the faster the healing process can begin. Understanding potential physical injuries to expect after an accident can help expedite someone’s road to recovery.
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