Pain management specialists know that auto accidents can be one of the most traumatic events a person can endure, and the physical pain from one can be a constant reminder of it. With 20 to 50 million people worldwide suffering from non-fatal injuries from car accidents each year, managing pain after a car accident is a universal challenge.
There are many options out there, from over-the-counter analgesics you can access without a prescription to treatment from a pain management physician. It can be difficult to know what the best choice is among pain management options for your body.
Depending on the type of injury you suffered from, your pain management needs may differ. There are several kinds of auto accident injuries that are common and can result in chronic pain.
A few examples of these are:
Car collisions often result in trauma to a person’s neck or spine due to the incredible force involved. This may come in the form of fractured or dislocated vertebrae, a ruptured or herniated disc, or damaged muscles.
Auto accidents, particularly when they involved two moving forces colliding, can cause individuals inside the vehicles to be knocked around, pushing up against and into solid parts in the vehicle, or causing objects to hit you. It’s unsurprising, then, those broken bones are some of the most common car crash injuries. Being jammed into the steering wheel can result in problems for drivers. Depending on the intensity of an accident, even your seatbelt may cause broken bones due to the force required to keep you secured in your seat.
Injuries to the brain are frequent in car crashes, as the jolting and bumping of an accident can cause the brain to bruise or tissues to be torn. Objects may also penetrate the skull, causing a penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussions may be less damaging than a penetrating TBI, but any injury to the brain can be serious and has the capacity to cause physical, mental, and emotional issues.
Just as the brain may sustain bruising in an auto accident, so can other organs. Internal bleeding is bleeding that occurs inside the body with no blood exiting the body to give evidence of the problem. It can be just as dangerous and damaging as injuries that result in blood loss, though. Pain and skin discoloration are both signs of potential internal bleeding to look out for.
While not a physical injury in itself, post-traumatic stress disorder is nonetheless a common form of mental and emotional harm that stems from a car collision. It can present itself in fear of getting into a car again, anxiety over being around moving vehicles, the reliving of the accident when triggered by certain sounds or sights, and difficulty sleeping.
The jerking motion that occurs when the force of a car hits something can cause whiplash, a form of soft tissue injury. The pain of strained ligaments and tendons in the neck, shoulders, or back can be due to whiplash.
Though those listed above are the most common types of injuries, there are many other kinds that can also occur and result in chronic pain and may need treatment by a professional.
If you experience any signs of injury after a motor vehicle accident, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as you can. The more quickly you can get your injuries assessed by a medical professional, the more likely they will be able to help you heal from the damage sustained in the auto accident. This also ensures that your insurance claims will be processed as quickly as possible.
Although some injuries from car accidents can heal on their own over time or may necessitate brief treatment, many leave a lasting impact on the individuals involved in the crash, and a lifetime of chronic pain is a consequence of a car crash for many. It’s estimated that over 90 million adults in the United States endure some form of chronic pain every day.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months even with treatment or medication. It can cause profound stress on the body resulting in other negative physical responses such as fatigue, difficulties with mobility, loss of appetite, and more. Chronic pain can also cause severe mental distress with many chronic pain sufferers also experiencing anxiety and depression because of it. It is no surprise, then, that dealing with that pain can feel like a full-time job if you try to do it on your own without the help of a pain management physician.
Pain management doctors and specialists are professionals who have been trained in the nuanced art of treating chronic pain. The American Board of Medical Specialties has very stringent qualifications that must be satisfied in order for an individual to earn the title of “pain management specialist.” In order to qualify, a doctor must be an M.D. with a specialization in physical rehabilitation, anesthesiology, and/or neurology.
Pain management clinics usually are made up of a team of skilled professionals that includes doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals all trained to help treat pain. Clinics may also host psychologists, nutritionists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, and dieticians to aid in chronic pain treatment.
Each individual will have a different set of needs after a car accident. What works for one person may not work for another, and multiple forms of treatment may be required to adequately address chronic pain stemming from such an accident. Likewise, the length of time that you will need to be under the care of a pain management physician will vary depending on the extent of your injuries and the degree of success treatments achieve. Sometimes identifying the source of chronic pain can take time, while some treatments also may take longer to feel the full effects of.
The variety of treatment methods includes some such as medicine that will cause immediate relief of pain, while others such as physical therapy will take longer to fully benefit from.
The treatment of chronic pain through medicine can be very effective, but it requires a delicate balance that pain management specialists understand from their extensive training and experience. Because pain medication can be so addictive, doctors have to work hard to find the right medication and dosages that work for a patient as well as any additional forms of treatment that may help make chronic pain more manageable.
Opioids offer effective relief from pain for many. Examples of commonly prescribed opioids for chronic pain are tramadol and codeine. Opioids have serious drawbacks, though, including decreased efficacy when used for long periods of time, high risk of addiction, opioid-induced hyperalgesia, and potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Those with histories of addiction may be unable to tolerate or benefit from the use of opioids in pain management or may relapse because of even the prescribed use of opioids. Many also experience adverse side effects when using opioids, such as nausea, constipation and sedation. Because of this, opioids should only be used under the strict direction of a professionally trained pain management specialist.
Non-opioid options that are commonly used for pain management are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Adjuvant medications such as antidepressants and anticonvulsants may also sometimes be used to help with pain management. Antidepressants can also help with the mental toll of living with chronic pain. Examples of antidepressants that may be prescribed are amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and doxepin.
Though most typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, benzodiazepines are sometimes used to treat chronic pain in the short term under the close supervision of a pain management doctor. Examples of benzodiazepines are Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Halcion. Benzodiazepines have side effects such as issues with memory, coordination impairment, and addiction liability.
By slowing your heart down and causing certain hormones to cease their production, beta-blockers can help alleviate pain in some cases. Headaches and migraines, in particular, may benefit from the use of beta-blockers. Chronic pain after a car accident may also be managed with the use of a low-dose beta-blocker when used as prescribed by a pain management doctor. Examples of beta-blockers that may be used include atenolol, bisoprolol, and carvedilol.
Cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to help with pain minimization and can be useful in certain circumstances. Synthetic cannabinoids on the market include dronabinol and nabilone which can both be used in pain management. It is not recommended that marijuana be smoked for treatment as the inhalation of smoke is not believed to be an acceptable means of delivery.
Medical cannabis regulations and availability vary throughout the country. Research the laws in your area to ensure cannabinoids are legal and only used under the direction of your prescriber.
Physical therapy is commonly used after car crashes and other traumatic events to help ease pain and increase strength. Neurologic physical therapy and orthopedic physical therapy can both be helpful in treating chronic pain. Physical therapists are trained to use hands-on approaches to work with patients to improve functioning and help patients to feel better.
PT may include the use of massage, heat or ice therapy, electrical stimulation, or other means of managing pain. The foundation of PT, though, is exercise, and your physical therapist will guide you through stretches and exercises specifically designed to target the issues you are dealing with to help you move more easily and generally feel better.
Supervised therapeutic exercise can be a component of pain treatment. Using aerobic, flexibility, resistance, neuromotor, or other forms of exercise training, the body’s strength is built up and overall physical fitness is improved. Much like physical therapy, it can help to increase strength and flexibility and helps alleviate lower back pain, neck pain, and other conditions.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on changing patterns of thought. Although pain isn’t something you are imagining, the feeling of it is rooted in your brain, and cognitive therapy may help the body manage its experience of pain better. It has been shown to reduce pain and minimize associated distress and disability, as well as increase coping and sleep.
Meditation is the practice of learning to focus your attention on one thing for a length of time. Typically, the thing you are focusing on is your breathing, causing your whole body to relax and feel calmer. Meditation has been shown to release endorphins and reduce inflammation and pain. Over time, meditation practice has also been shown to increase pain tolerance.
Similar to meditation, yoga is a practice in breathing control, though it is more physical than meditation. During yoga, the body practices different postures, stretches and positions while emphasizing mental wellness and breath control. Like meditation, yoga has been shown to help with chronic pain conditions and chronic back pain in particular.
Acupuncture is the ancient practice of inserting thin needles into precise parts of the body. It is often used as a complementary tool in the treatment of pain. Back, neck, and knee pain especially may benefit from the use of acupuncture, and it may also reduce inflammation and increase relaxation. Acupuncture should only be performed by a trained professional in a professional setting under the advice of a pain management specialist.
Pain after a car accident can indicate a need for professional intervention. Don’t let yourself suffer needlessly when steps can be taken to improve your condition. If you have been in an auto accident and experienced pain afterward, you may need to see a pain management physician.
Contact the pain management specialists at Injured Call Today to schedule your appointment with qualified and specialized physicians at a pain clinic in New York and New Jersey today. Our doctors accept no-fault insurance, PIP (Personal Injury Protection), workers’ compensation, and other health insurance plans. Same-day Appointments may be available.
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