Every year, thousands of people are injured in car accidents on Florida’s roads and highways. Although it’s tempting to think of some car accidents as “minor,” the truth is, any car accident — even a “little” fender bender — can cause serious and long-lasting injuries.
At Easy Reach Chiropractic, our skilled chiropractors and physical therapists help patients at our Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth, Florida, practices find relief for their auto accident injuries and even help prevent them from getting worse. If you’ve been in a car accident, here are four common injuries for which you should be on the lookout.
Whiplash is one of the most well-known car accident injuries, perhaps because it’s so common. Millions of people suffer from whiplash injuries every year, many occurring after auto accidents.
Whiplash happens when your head and neck are snapped back and forth suddenly and with a lot of force (like the lash of a whip). That rapid motion strains neck muscles and joints, and it can also cause nerve damage.
Whiplash doesn’t require a lot of speed, either. Even impact speeds of as low as 10 miles per hour can cause whiplash, especially in people who are more prone to injuries, like older people and people with arthritis or a history of disc problems.
Whiplash symptoms can be painful and long-lasting, and often, the full extent of injury isn’t apparent for days or weeks afterward. That’s one reason why it’s so important to have a medical exam after any type of car accident — even if you don’t think you have symptoms or if your symptoms are mild.
Your discs are spongy “dividers” located between each pair of vertebrae (spine bones). Their primary role is to act as cushions to protect your spine and to support normal flexibility. They also create spaces between each pair of vertebrae to allow nerves to exit your spine and travel to other parts of your body.
The impact from a car accident is often enough to cause one or more discs to slip out of place. If a disc extends beyond the borders of the vertebrae, it can press on nerves, causing pain, numbness, and other symptoms all along the nerve pathway.
Disc problems are often associated with inflammation, another source of nerve compression. If a disc tears or ruptures, the gel-like substance it contains can leak out, causing painful tissue irritation, especially when you move your spine.
Car accidents are a major cause of concussions, a type of head injury that can lead to brain injury. Most concussions are associated with a headache, although it may be mild. However, over time, swelling, bleeding, or other internal damage can quickly lead to serious and even life-threatening problems affecting your brain — and in turn, your heart activity, breathing, memory, cognitive ability, or other functions.
Like whiplash and some other car accident injuries, the full extent of concussion-related damage can take days to become apparent, and because initial symptoms can be mild, it’s tempting to think they’ll go away on their own. In fact, having a medical evaluation after a car accident is the best way to “catch” a concussion in its early stages, significantly decreasing the risk of serious or life-threatening brain damage.
Back and neck injuries
The previous three injuries affect your back and neck, but they aren’t the only ways your spine can be injured in a car accident. Even mild impacts can “jolt” your neck and spine, causing soft tissue damage to your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as your discs and nerves.
Back and neck injuries can happen to anyone, but as with the other injuries on this list, they tend to be more common or cause more severe symptoms in people with preexisting spine issues, like arthritis, scoliosis, or spinal stenosis. They also tend to be more common among older people and people whose spines are subjected to lots of daily wear-and-tear.
Don’t ignore car accident injuries
Most people expect car accident injuries to show up right away, but the fact is, the effects of many injuries don’t become fully apparent until days afterward. Worse, these injuries can have a long-term impact on your life, causing chronic pain and disability that can take a toll on you and your loved ones.
If you’ve been involved in a car crash, prompt medical attention is the best way to avoid these consequences. To schedule your evaluation with Barbara Adonis, DC, and the team at Easy Reach Chiropractic, book an appointment online or over the phone at our offices in Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today.