Car accidents can come into your life in an instant and leave a lasting impact, both physically and psychologically. In the immediate chaos following an accident, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, scared, or anxious. This is completely normal. However, it is also imperative to keep a cool head and address what you need most in the situation.
The reality is that many of those who are in a car accident fail to seek out medical help for “smaller” aches and pains following the crash. This could be a monumental mistake. Oftentimes, we are so grateful to walk away from a frightful accident with what appear to be minor injuries, that we fail to see the damage that may just be beginning to compound in our bodies. Many of these seemingly minor issues stem from soft tissue injuries that build in the time following the accident. It’s also worth noting that at the time of an accident, our bodies release a rush of endorphins that may mask some of this pain immediately, making it even more imperative to pay attention to new symptoms in the days following the crash.
Because of the slightly more ambiguous nature of soft tissue injuries, it’s incredibly important to seek medical help to not only get a proper diagnosis of what’s going on but also make sure that these smaller signs are indicators of something more serious.
If we’re getting technical, soft tissue injuries can be classified as sprains, strains, or bruises. A sprain happens when a ligament is stretched or forced beyond its normal range of motion. In the case of an auto accident, the traumatic, sudden force can cause some of the ligaments in our bodies to move well beyond their normal range. A strain involves injury to the muscle or to the band of tissue that connects a muscle to the bone. Again, these injuries can easily occur from the trauma of an accident. Finally, a bruise is perhaps the easiest to spot with your own eyes, as the black-and-blue markings signal trauma to the skin from burst capillaries below the surface.
The one commonality between all soft tissue injuries— they all require medical attention. The degree of seriousness can vary greatly between each individual circumstance, and the only way to really have a handle on what is going on with your body is to seek medical treatment immediately. Essentially, don’t delay getting medical help following a car accident, even if your injuries seem minor.
Much of how your tissue is impacted depends on the type of accident that you are involved in. Key factors include speed and position of both cars— important considerations when evaluating potential soft tissue injuries post-accident. Again, keep in mind that many soft tissue injuries may not cause instant pain at the time of the accident, but can compound in the days following the trauma.
Whiplash is a common example of a soft tissue injury that may not cause immediate pain but can begin to grow in the days following the accident. If your head experienced sudden, back-and-forth movement, especially common in a rear-end collision, be extra aware of whiplash symptoms like neck pain and stiffness, or trouble with concentration. Symptoms may begin to set in after the accident and are most effectively treated with medical care as soon as they begin.
A thoracic, or upper back, a sprain can happen as a result of trauma to the discs and ligaments during the sudden impact of an accident. The same can happen with the ligaments in the mid-back, though the muscles surrounding this area may also be impacted. These sprains can cause extreme back pain, bruising, limit movement, and even result in nerve damage if left untreated.
Herniated discs are another common soft tissue accident injury. The discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae in the spine can become displaced during the force of a crash. When this happens, it can cause nerve pain and feelings of numbness in the back and legs.
Again, it’s important to note that some soft tissue injuries do not show up immediately, but rather in the days and weeks following an accident. If you’re lucky enough to walk away from the site of the accident seemingly unscathed, be sure to pay close attention to how your body responds following the crash.
Barring emergency medical needs on the accident site, it’s best to seek medical help immediately following your accident. Sometimes after a jarring event, it’s easy to dismiss seemingly little aches and pains that can later grow into something more difficult to manage and ultimately overcome.
Chiropractic care can play a huge role here. From more common whiplash symptoms to various neck and shoulder injuries, this conservative care has greatly assisted many in their process working through post-accident issues. Through the use of the spine, neck, and extremity manipulations or adjustments, this care can help to realign the body, decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, and reduce nerve irritability. Your practitioner can also help you implement an at-home care plan when necessary to help your recovery process along outside of office hours. Plus, if there is a suspicion that there is something structural going on as well, they can order the lab or imaging work to make sure that you have all the necessary pieces to your health puzzle.
Again, in the case of accident injuries, it’s imperative that you seek help right away even if you think that your pain is minor. Many of these injuries can build over time, and they are much better nipped in the bud.
By working consistent chiropractic care into your rehabilitation routine, you could cut down on your healing time and increase your overall quality of life. That’s a huge win-win. The bottom line: if you’ve been in a car accident, seeking medical treatment immediately could make a real difference in both instant relief and your long-term recovery. Get help now; schedule your chiropractic appointment online or call (502) 237-4740.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.