After a car accident, you will most likely be attended to by a paramedic. Their role is to assess whether you need urgent attention at the scene to preserve your life before being rushed to hospital for further care. Depending on the accident, you may have suffered concussions, lacerations, fractures or even internal injuries.
If you don’t have serious injuries or have been cleared to go back home from the emergency room and still don’t feel okay, you might have suffered musculo-skeletal injuries.
Common musculo-skeletal injuries
For some people, the pain and tension comes right away and can get worse over time. After impact, whether front or rear, your neck is the most vulnerable point and most susceptible to injury. While your body will be held in place by a seatbelt, the head and neck still move freely and the acceleration and deceleration can result in injury or dislocation that can cause pain or discomfort. This is usually a result of hyperextension or hyperflexion injuries in the neck’s soft tissues, joint capsules or intervertebral discs, and is often called whiplash.
Symptoms of whiplash include arms tingling, numb or in pain, neck pain and/or inflammation, dizziness, nausea, loss of cognitive function (clarity of thought or concentration), jaw pain or TMJ, spinal disc displacement symptoms and mid to lower back pain.
What your chiropractor can do
The immediate course of action depends on the extent of injury and your symptoms. The first step is to make an appointment with a chiropractic or physical therapy Jersey City expert. These are people with deep understanding of the musculoskeletal system and can assess any problems related to muscles, joints, nerves and spinal connective tissues.
First, they will conduct a physical assessment in order to determine how best to treat your injuries. It is imperative that you make the first appointment as soon as possible following your accident as early treatment can prevent the situation from worsening. Waiting until the pain is unbearable will lead to further damage in the interim.
If you have instability in soft tissues and joints, you will be advised to refrain from movement for a while, usually the first 1-3 days following the accident. Immediately after the accident, you can expect an inflammatory response from the body. The damaged area(s) will be sensitive, painful and/or swollen and the muscles will start spasming to separate the damaged area and reduce chances of further damage. Moving will only aggravate the pain.
Stillness will prevent this pain-spasm-pain cycle, as does holding an ice pack on the injury site. You will also be advised to lie down or rest for the first few days to reduce postural strain on the neck and spine. Ensure that you are properly supported to promote healing.
Once the inflammation phase passes, part of your physical therapy Jersey City program will be to resume normal movements (reasonably depending on extent of injury). Again, prolonged immobility can lead to muscle weakness and death (atrophy) making recovery more painful and difficult. It is important to know that there will be some pain, but this is part of normal recovery and should not dissuade you from following your therapist’s instructions.
Finally, it isn’t uncommon to have vertebral subluxations in the upper spine (neck and back) following an accident. Chiropractic adjustment can help set bones in order and reduce pain as well as enable you to resume normal movement with little to no pain.
Millie Clare is a professional health consultant specializing in spine health. She has been in this field for 20 years now. If you are looking for a physical therapy Jersey City, click this link for more information.