AUTO ACCIDENTS – When the Minor Aches become Major Pains

You’re reeling from a fender bender – anxiety is high, the commotion around you is at a fever pitch, but you walk away relatively unscathed.  What if the paramedics tell you that you are not injured enough to go to the hospital, but you still don’t feel quite right?

In these unfortunate yet common situations, paramedics are often the first health care professionals who attend to your needs. They assess whether you should be rushed to the hospital for immediate medical treatment or deal with injuries right on the scene.  So what if your injuries don’t appear for a day or two, or even a week?

Common Auto Accident Injuries

Some people encounter pain and tension right away, while other times the symptoms may get worse over time.

Your neck is the most vulnerable area of your body in any motor vehicle accident. Rapid changes in speed and deceleration can be detrimental to your body.  While a seatbelt lessens the motion of your main body, your head and neck are free to move.  As a result of this unsecured motion, the neck moves very rapidly through an excessive range, contributing to hyperflexion-hyperextension injuries that can affect soft tissues in the neck, as well as joint capsules and interverte­bral discs.

Chiropractic Care After a Car Accident

aurora-colorado-chiropratic-10-most-common-auto-injuries-infographicYour recommended course of treatment will differ depending upon the degree of injury. It is recommended to consult with your chiropractor to chart the best course of action. Chiropractors are musculoskeletal specialists, and have the know-how to assess and treat almost any problem related to the nerves, muscles, joints and connective tissues of the spine.

Most of the time it will feel best to remain immobile for the first 48-72 hours immediately following an automobile accident.  A body’s response to any injury is an inflammatory reaction, making the damaged area both swollen and pain sensitive. Pain is typically present with attempted movements during this time. Muscles around the injured area tend to spasm – effectively splinting the area and preventing further damage. Muscle spasm can also cause greater compression of the joints, leading to more pain.

This pain-spasm-pain cycle should be prevented early in the recovery process following a motor vehicle accident. Cooling the immediate area of injury with ice for 5-10 minutes at a time may help limit the painful effects of inflammation. Resting or lying down during the first few days will also ease the postural strain felt around the neck and shoulders.

After this initial inflammatory stage, a patient is recommended to resume normal movements – within a reasonable range and within the patient’s pain tolerance. If immobility is prolonged, muscle atrophy and weakness can make recovery and rehabilitation from a whiplash injury more difficult.

If movement is not encouraged, muscle spasm can often persist, causing increased compression on the discs and joints of the neck, potentially leading to chronic problems.