For a large percentage of the population, vehicle accidents are among the most traumatic events they will ever face. That is especially true if there are immediate injuries to one or more victims.
In some instances, accident injuries aren’t detected until days, weeks or even months after the original incident, even though they can be quite serious. Diagnosis can require X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. In some cases, ongoing medical treatment is needed to deal with chronic pain or other symptoms.
Here are some of the more common injuries from vehicle accidents.
Whiplash is a catch-all term given to a range of possible injuries after an accident causes sudden neck movement or if the neck is pushed beyond its normal range. The extreme, unexpected motion causes stretching or tears of muscles and ligaments in the neck and may damage the nerves. In rare cases, it can even break bones.
During a whiplash injury, the head is suddenly forced backward or forward and is then snapped in the other direction. This kind of motion most often happens to people in a car that is hit from behind. The accident does not need to be severe because of the weight of the vehicles involved to cause serious injury. Whiplash can also infrequently happen in a fall or a sports injury.
Symptoms of whiplash include:
- Severe neck pain; often the 2nd or 3rd day following an accident is when the pain begins, but may be delayed for weeks or months.
- Headaches that may not begin for days to months following the accident
- Pain down one or both arms
- Pain that disappears but returns after a few days
- Numbness, weakness or tingling in hands, arms, chest or legs
- Inability to move your head.
Head and brain injuries
During an accident, drivers or passengers often bump their heads on steering wheels, dashboards, windshields, etc. Any head injury can greatly increase whiplash injuries and the potential for long term chronic neck or headaches. Injuries can also result from violent movement of the brain inside the skull, even if the victim’s head doesn’t strike anything.
“Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects,” reports the Mayo Clinic. “Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.”
Brain injury symptoms can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Being dazed, confused or disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- A bad taste in the mouth or a change in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious.
When internal organs are injured in an accident, it is typically easily noticeable and people naturally seek immediate medical help because of pain. In rare instances, however, internal bleeding may occur after a less severe trauma.
WebMD.com reports, “As the bleeding continues, symptoms appear and steadily get worse. Symptoms depend on the type of trauma and what body part was involved.”
As an example, abdominal pain or swelling can be caused by internal bleeding from trauma in the liver or spleen. These symptoms get worse as the bleeding continues.
Any source of internal bleeding can produce light-headedness, dizziness or fainting once enough blood is lost. Internal bleeding into skin and soft tissue can produce a large, discolored area similar to a bruise called ecchymosis. Internal bleeding in limbs can cause swelling, tightness and pain — usually from a broken bone.
In addition to bleeding and organ damage, accidents can produce a range of breaks and sprains needing medical intervention.
Accident injuries can require treatment including chiropractic care, physical therapy and even massage. If pain persists after more than six weeks, consultation with a physician who specializes in pain management is recommended. These medical specialists have a range of options including injectable treatments to reduce inflammation and help patients return to normal activities.
Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of healthcare experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.
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