Car Accidents!

Posted on September 27, 2011. Filed under: Pain | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Alright, the tires squeal – you see it coming….you swerve as best you can, but it’s all so fast there is nothing you can do about it. Not enough time to be really afraid, and Smash! Your body is jerked, some parts of you bang against the car, and if it’s not too bad you get out of the car at least a little shocked, maybe angry, hoping the other party isn’t a nut case….and you debate what to do. You can walk away, and you pride seems hurt more than your body.

What do you do first? Call your doctor…or your lawyer??

Are you OK because you could walk away? If you hurt just a little, does that mean you are damaged only a little?

There are several key stages to injury: the immediate after-effects, intermediate problems, and finally long-term issues that may not surface for some time.

Just after a wreck the issues are shock and trauma, if any. Whatever is broken needs immobilized, whatever is bleeding needs stopped, and shock needs to be managed. Of course, sometimes it’s bumps and bruises, and still a little shock. If it’s bad – it’s to the ER, and if not, to the family doctor or emergency-clinic. You may be x-rayed if there is suspicion of neck or back injury, and probably sent home with pain killers. Ice or heat application is often useful at this stage.

What I’ve seen time and time again are problems that pop up later – from a couple of weeks to months down the line. Sometimes these issues are far enough removed in time that a patient really doesn’t quite believe that a car wreck a year ago could possibly have anything to do with their pain….but they finally admit that prior to the accident they were in quite good shape with no such issues.

What are some of these symptoms? Neck pain is the obvious one, but back pain from twisting in the seat belt, shoulder pain from having the shoulder jammed, hip pain from the same type of thing, as well as headaches, sleeplessness, anxiety, and even pains shooting down the arms or legs if the jolt injured a disc and nerve.

The reasons some symptoms take time to develop are several. Some tissues are torn badly and hurt right away. Some deeper tissues, e.g. ligaments – may be over-stretched and torn just a little, and those tissues are slower to ache, and slower to recover. Bones can be bruised, cartilage can be damaged, and a useful image to keep in mind is that while acute injuries “leak,” slow-onset pains come from tissues that “ooze” and slowly build up pressure and inflammation.

End result: headaches, numbness, heavy-headedness, very uncomfortable stiffness, difficulty in breathing, and fatigue. All of these things can become chronic – meaning that they form a “system” of long-lasting pain for you to deal with.

Not all accidents are big deals, but some that look quite minor turn out to be quite a problem if the deeper tissues are damaged. The worst part is this: if the deep tissues are damaged and uncorrected, it sets up the very nasty predisposition to early arthritis of the bones of the skeleton, in which case motion is permanently lost as the stoop sets in.

Any but the most minor accidents are worthy of a check-up by someone who has expertise in how the muscles and skeletal systems of the body move and work; this implies some past the ER or emergency-clinic, because that type of exam isn’t their job anyway. They are to keep you alive and basically OK, but for correction and treatment you need the specialist input.

Living in a metro area means that potential accidents are a daily possibility, and my best advice to look left and right at intersections twice – and get yourself checked for emergency issues and structural problems if an accident happens. Your older-age depends on it…..

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