When you are in a car accident, even if in a low speed collision, thousands of pounds of force are exerted on your head, neck and back. This can cause measurable damage to the muscles, nerves, ligaments and bones. So when you are in an accident, whether you know it or not, you have probably been injured. These injuries can cause pain and health problems for many years.
After a car accident, you may feel moderate or severe pain, but sometimes, no pain at all.
Surprisingly, many auto accidents produce injuries that are not detected for months, or even years. Often, the initial pain subsides, only to return full-blown later. Connective tissue injuries (injuries to muscles, ligaments and discs) can be deceiving. They may seem to be “just some sore muscles,” but soft tissue injuries heal with scar tissue that can affect you for the rest of your life.
The damage and injuries sustained in an auto accident can lead to the following kinds of symptoms:
- Recurring headaches
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms or hands
- Chronic muscle tension and spasms
- Low back pain
- Spinal disc degeneration
- Painful, inflamed arthritis
- Sore, tight, inflexible muscles
- Decreased athletic ability
- Greater chance of re-injury
- Poor posture
You cannot assume you aren’t injured just because you don’t immediately experience pain. And you cannot assume you are not seriously injured just because you have only moderate pain. Only an experienced medical professional can determine the nature and extent of your injuries.
A medical evaluation will include an examination, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests. You may be asked to see a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon or neurologist. Through testing and examination, these medical professionals can determine what is injured, and recommend a course of treatment and care.
Broken bones, cuts and abrasions, internal injuries and the like are treated with casts, stitches, bandages, surgery and so forth. Connective, “soft tissue”, injuries can be treated in a variety of ways. You may be prescribed a regimen of physical therapy, which could include applications of heat and/or ice, electrical stimulation, strengthening exercises, stretching, and massage. You may be prescribed chiropractic manipulation and adjustments to correct a misalignment of your spine. You will probably be told to rest for a period of time. And you may be prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxants to help speed your recovery and alleviate your symptoms.
Fortunately, with the proper diagnosis and treatment, most people recover from their injuries in anywhere from a few days to a few months. The residual affect of their injuries, however, may last for years.
After an injury heals, the body is often more susceptible to re-injury. Muscle weakness, improperly set fractures, or other complications can lead to ongoing pain, limitation of motion, and reduced vitality. Injuries can increase the likelihood of degenerative conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
You should never assume that your injuries, however minor they may seem, can be ignored.
You need proper medical diagnosis and treatment to maximize your physical recovery and minimize the onset of future problems. Exercise and good nutrition can help restore your former state of health. The bottom line is that your health is too important to take for granted, so if you have been injured in an auto accident, protect your health and your legal rights by getting a proper (and speedy) evaluation and following your doctors’ orders and treatment plan.