Why seemingly minor injuries should still be examined by a professional
Auto accident victims often refuse medical care at the accident scene, believing their injuries are not serious. But, pain and inflammation may develop later. When this happens, it’s called a “latent injury.” The best course of action is to seek medical treatment for car accident injuries immediately, since many injuries, particularly those affecting the soft tissues of the body, may take days or even weeks to become a problem. Physical therapists can help treat your aches and pains after a motor vehicle accident — no matter the location or size —to help prevent long-term issues and help get you back to moving, no matter the injury.
Auto accidents can cause various types of injuries depending on the circumstances of the collision. Here are some of the more common injuries that should not be ignored:
Fractures, strains, and sprains — including whiplash — are common after car accidents. Whiplash is the most common type of injury sustained in rear-end collisions. Contrary to what many people believe, it does not take a high-speed or powerful crash to cause whiplash, and according to a review in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, most whiplash injuries occur as the result of a rear-end crash at speeds of less than 14 mph. A doctor will examine a patient to diagnose whiplash, and may also order X-rays or an MRI of the neck to check for other injuries. If the doctor declares that there are no fractures then the patient is a candidate for physical therapy. Symptoms for patients who have experienced whiplash typically include difficulty sleeping, headaches and dizziness – all issues that can be treated very effectively with a regimented therapy program.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury occurs when the impact of a collision injures the spine and causes damage to the bundle of nerves within it. This could require neurological rehabilitation. Since the spinal cord links the brain to the rest of the body, an injury can interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate with the body and result in paralysis, either complete (total numbness and paralysis in the affected part of the body), or incomplete, meaning that some sensation or movement remains in the affected area.
The lower back is the most common site of spine injuries that might seem minor at first but eventually become more serious. They include:
- Sprains, which involve the stretching or tearing of a ligament
- Strains, which are injuries to muscles or tendons supporting the spine
- Herniated (slipped or ruptured) discs, which are broken or deformed in some way
- Fractured vertebrae, when trauma compresses the bones of the spine
Back injuries often do not become apparent until several days or weeks after a car accident, making it difficult to obtain a prompt diagnosis. These injuries can result in long-lasting, debilitating pain and limited mobility.
Concussions occur when the head strikes a hard surface and damages the brain, interfering with its function. Even without lengthy loss of consciousness, a concussion can interfere with your ability to focus and complete simple tasks like reading a computer screen. Anyone with signs of concussion including — nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and excessive sleepiness — should seek medical care. CORA Physical Therapy has trained clinicians that can help with your recovery.
Keeping Minor Injuries From Becoming Major
Have you sustained injuries in a car accident and are uncertain whether or not you should seek medical care? Our licensed physical therapists are experienced in recognizing and treating latent injuries that can result from even the most minor fender-benders. And, most importantly, our therapists will always work with you and your doctor to make sure you have the best paced treatment to get you back to moving safely again. With more than 150 physical therapy centers, CORA Physical Therapy is ready to help with prompt treatment. In fact, it can be life-changing if you come to therapy early in your recovery process.