Every car accident is different, which is why some people walk away with only a few scratches while others are left in a more critical condition. However, most victims of car accidents have injuries that fall somewhere in between. There are also some common injuries caused by car crashes that, although they may not seem especially critical in the moment, can have a huge impact on your quality of life down the line if left untreated. Here is a rundown of three of these types of injuries and how the specialists at Integrative Physical Medicine in Orlando treat them.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is one of the most commonly reported injuries by people involved in car accidents. Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that is caused when the impact of a car crash forces the neck ligaments to stretch beyond their normal limits. Although not life-threatening, whiplash can limit range of motion and cause tenderness and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. If left untreated, whiplash can lead to debilitating chronic pain in the neck and shoulders.
- Middle and Lower Back Sprains or Strains: Although whiplash is famously known as the most typical car crash injury, strained muscles in the middle and lower back are also very common. This is because the same force that makes the head jerk violently forward and causes whiplash also travels through the middle and lower back, compressing the vertebrae together. As with whiplash, middle and lower back strains that go untreated can lead to difficulties with chronic pain throughout the individual’s life!
- Herniated Discs occur when part of the inner layer of a spinal disc comes out of place and pushes through the outer layer, irritating nearby nerves and causing pain, numbness, or weakness. Herniated discs typically occur in your lower back, although they can occur in the neck as well. While herniated discs are most often caused by aging, they can also be caused by a sudden, intense force to the back, such as from a car accident.
Each of these injuries can cause chronic pain and other difficulties when left untreated. A patient’s prognosis is best when they seek immediate attention for these issues. However, this can be difficult because it can be quite common for pain from injury in the neck and back to be delayed several days or even weeks following an accident! Although all of the causes of these delays are not fully understood, we do know that the rush of adrenaline or feelings of shock can cause people to block out the pain, not to mention distraction experienced due to dealing with police or insurance.
Because of this, a good rule of thumb is to visit a car accident clinic any time you are in an accident. Think your accident wasn’t severe enough to warrant a trip to the clinic? Research has shown that a rear impact at speeds even as low as 5 miles per hour can be enough to damage the spine and surrounding tissues!
Once you are at the clinic, the doctor should give your neck and back a full inspection, searching for areas that are painful or might have damage.
- Spinal Manipulation Therapy is a practice that involves manually applying pressure to different areas of the spine in order to correct damaging misalignment. This process often creates a “cracking” or “popping” sound, which is usually followed by an intense sensation of relief. Correcting misalignment can reduce joint pressure as well as reduce stress, provide pain relief, improve circulation, relieve headaches, and reduce inflammation.
- Extremity Manipulation Therapy is similar to spinal manipulation therapy, only that bone misalignment in areas of the body other than the spine, such as the hands, wrists, ankles, or feet is being addressed.
- Electric Stimulation Therapy is a therapeutic practice in which electrodes are attached to areas of concern. Painless pulses of electricity travel through the electrodes and mimic the way in which the brain communicates with our muscles and causes them to contract, which helps to improve blood circulation, relieve pain, and increase range of motion.
- Injection Therapy is when qualified doctors administer an epidural steroid injection into the epidural space in the spine. This helps to reduce inflammation and can provide the patient relief from pain for anywhere from several weeks to several months, all without the use of addictive prescription painkillers!