5 Common Car Accident Injuries

common car accident injuries

More than three million suffer from car accident injuries each year. These injuries from car accidents can vary depending on the severity of the accident among other factors. Though there are many injuries one may suffer from a car accident, there are some injuries that are more common than others.

1. Whiplash

Whiplash is often sustained from a rapid back and forth movement of the neck and head. This injury is common with car accidents and can vary in severity from mild to severe.

Typical symptoms of whiplash include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Loss of range of motion in your neck or throughout your spine
  • Dizziness

Treatment Options:

Whiplash treatment options are typically focused on mobilizing the neck muscles. This can be done with-

  • Education of the anatomy involved in a patient’s particular injury and how it relates to daily function.
  • Safe Early Movement Strategies to decrease the effects of being sedentary after a motor vehicle accident including fear / anxiety and disuse atrophy
  • Graded movement exposure to build strength and resiliency
  • Neck specific and whole body strengthening and control based exercises
  • Neck range of motion exercises and progressions
  • Manual therapy
  • Dry needling
  • Slow progressions of neck range of motion exercises

2. Concussion

Concussions can be sustained in many ways but one of the most common is from car accidents. Concussions can occur from direct trauma to the head during an accident or from multiple other causes such as whiplash. Concussions can be complex in nature so a physician or physical therapist diagnosis is often needed to confirm their presence.

Typical symptoms of a concussion can be:

  • Headache
  • Sense of confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light

Treatment Options:

  • Strategies for relaxing and decreasing neuro-sensitivity such as breathing techniques, meditation, sleep hygiene, water intake, etc.
  • Treatment to jaw, neck, upper back, and surrounding regions to reduce contributing symptoms.
  • Vestibular/balance exercises
  • Vision training
  • Whole body exercise/movement
  • Soft tissue mobilization, dry needling, etc.

3. Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common car accident injuries and can range in severity, from mild to severe, depending on what part of the back is injured. The back is divided into three areas, the cervical vertebrae, the thoracic vertebrae and lumbar vertebrae.

Typical back pain symptoms include:

  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Radiating
  • Increased pain with static positioning
  • Fear of movement

Treatment Options:

  • Education to understanding pain and all its contributing factors including pysco-social influence, previous history, along with the actual anatomy involved in the accident it self.
  • Whole body movement based exercises including core strengthening, flexibility, control, and gradual tolerance building.
  • Mobility and control exercises to decrease sensitivity to certain positions
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Joint mobilization
  • Dry needling
  • Home exercise program building

4. Knee injuries

Muscle strains and ligament sprains can are also known as common car accident injuries in addition to contusion.

Typical knee injury symptoms include:

  • Joint line pain / soreness
  • Surrounding musculature pain / soreness
  • Difficulty with gait, kneeling, or standing for prolonged periods

Treatment Options:

Holistic education that mobility and control in surrounding regions such as a patient’s core, pelvis, hip, knee, and ankle all can contribute to pain and how incorporating a whole body rehab is extremely important.
Techniques for decreasing sensitivity such as Dry Needling, Soft Tissue Mobilization, etc.

5. Soft tissue injuries

Soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains and contusions can all occur from a motor vehicle accident and can all be treated by physical therapy.

Typical soft tissue injury symptoms include:

  • Pain/Soreness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Limited mobility

Treatment Options:

  • Manual therapy to decrease sensitivity and open a window of time of decreased pain to allow you to get back to the things you enjoy
  • Progressive movements to increase the mobility of the injured area

You may feel fine immediately after an accident but often these injuries have a delayed onset of pain. It is best to visit a physical therapist sooner rather than later if you have suffered from a car accident injury to relieve pain and reduce the possibility of lingering issues.

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