There’s an old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, this approach can cause more harm than good if you’ve been in a car accident, even a minor fender bender.
Each year, more than 3 million people sustain serious injuries in car accidents. These incidents often cause visible trauma in the moment, such as bruises, scrapes, and fractures. But, car accidents can also cause injuries that don’t manifest symptoms for days, weeks, or even months.
As an experienced interventional pain management physician, Vladimir Fiks, MD, recommends seeking medical attention as soon as possible if you experience a car accident, especially if it was significant enough to damage your car. After all, it’s fairly safe to assume that if there was enough impact to affect the vehicle, it likely harmed your body too.
If you’ve been in an accident, here are three common injuries you should know about and why you shouldn’t wait to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Fiks at Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon.
More than 2 million Americans sustain whiplash each year, making it one of the most common car accident injuries. This problem arises when the head gets snapped forward and back suddenly, similar to a cracking whip. This jarring movement puts significant strain on ligaments, muscles, and joints in the upper back and neck, causing damage and injury.
Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take high levels of speed to sustain whiplash. Instead, it can occur at speeds as low as 5-10 miles per hour — and no speed at all if you get hit by another car while stopped. On top of that, your chances of developing whiplash during a car accident increase with age, especially if you already have an existing neck issue.
2. Soft tissue injuries
Other common injuries that car crashes can cause are sprains and strains. These injuries involve soft tissue in your body, such as:
- Blood vessels
- Connective tissues
Like whiplash, these injuries develop when soft tissue gets overstretched, leading to tears, swelling, inflammation, and pain. Depending on the injury, it’s also possible to have less range of motion and muscle spasms.
Car accidents can cause soft tissue injuries anywhere in the body, but they’re especially common in the neck, shoulders, and back.
3. Spine damage
Finally, car accidents can take a significant toll on your spine, leading to a variety of injuries, from alignment problems to herniated discs and fractures. And, like the other injuries we’ve discussed so far, they can take time to cause symptoms, especially when they involve herniated discs.
When you have a herniated disc, the rubbery cushion between the bones in your spine bulges or tears. As they lose shape, they begin putting pressure on nerves and tissue in the area, leading to symptoms like irritation and pain.
Getting help for car accident injuries
While many car accident injuries resolve with time, the best way to avoid chronic pain and disability involves early assessment and treatment.
If you’ve been in an accident, Dr. Fiks discusses the incident, any symptoms you may have, and performs an evaluation and testing to look for signs of injury. In many cases, this includes X-rays or MRIs to look for fractures and soft tissue injuries, such as herniated discs and spinal cord compression.
After your assessment, Dr. Fiks can outline a personalized approach to help manage your injuries. For example, he may recommend physical therapy or interventional pain management, such as spinal injections. He may also recommend medication in combination with other treatment approaches to manage your symptoms while getting to the source of your injury.
Have you been in a car accident? Don’t wait for symptoms to arise or worsen. Get the help you need by calling 971-233-4199 or booking an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.