Car accidents occur frequently, with a crash happening multiple times daily. Although some accidents may be minor fender benders that do not result in any damage, many crashes produce damage to both the vehicles involved and their occupants. There are numerous accident-related injuries that require pain management doctors.
In some accidents, especially the more serious ones, the related injuries are apparent right away. Some of them may require emergency care, while others may need treatment from an outpatient pain management specialist. The truth is that not all symptoms show up immediately after a crash. This is especially true with rear-end accidents or other seemingly minor crashes.
Because there is a delay of symptoms, many accident victims do not seek care at a pain management clinic. Some of the delayed symptoms indicate more serious issues. However, even if the injuries are not critical, seeking treatment is important to prevent acute and chronic pain, or more serious issues.
At Injured Call Today, our focus is on helping car accident victims get the help and treatment they need. We have a variety of medical providers and pain management specialists that a crash victim should contact after an accident.
There are numerous reasons why symptoms may not appear right after an accident. One major reason is that things are often chaotic. The drivers and passengers involved are often in a state of shock and are trying to figure out what just happened. Drivers may be focusing their attention on their occupants and making sure they are ok.
Depending on where the accident occurred, the drivers of the involved vehicles may need to move them so they are out of danger, such as to the side of a busy and crowded highway. Next, the drivers need to exchange information such as insurance policies, driver’s licenses and contact information.
The worry about what to do with the damaged vehicle, the fact that they are late for work, how to pay for the damage or other immediate concerns often take precedent over paying attention to any physical symptoms.
Another major reason that an accident victim may not even think about needing pain management doctors is the fact that adrenaline and other chemicals are rushing through the body. Many victims may feel shaky or highly energetic immediately after a crash, and this is because chemicals are helping them deal with the stress of the accident, and they are often covering up symptoms that indicate the body has injuries. Once the initial stress wears off, the adrenaline dissipates, and this is when symptoms may begin to appear.
Along with distractions and symptom-covering chemicals, some injuries take a little time to fully develop. An accident may cause the muscles to tighten in the neck, but it may take a few hours for this tightening to cause a headache. Because of these reasons, accident victims should visit a pain management center even if they seem to feel ok after the crash.
Symptoms may take hours or even days to appear, especially if the accident was not a major one. In fact, many of the common injuries that occur from a crash will take some time to fully present themselves.
Whiplash is extremely common after a car accident, especially if the vehicle was in a rear-end collision. The force of the hit causes the head to move forward and backward, often quite violently. Even in low-speed crashes in which there is minimal damage to the vehicle, whiplash can occur because the body takes the brunt of the collision.
This motion damages the muscles, nerves, spinal discs and ligaments in the neck. Common symptoms include stiffness and pain in the neck as well as the shoulders. If left untreated, the damage to the neck continues to get worse. This can cause changes to the cervical spine, which results in nerve pressure.
When the nerves do not function as they should, this can cause a variety of issues, and often times accident victims will have chronic issues if they do not seek treatment. A pain management specialist can diagnose whiplash or other causes of nerve pain and determine an effective treatment plan for both short- and long-term health.
Another symptom of whiplash is headache, and this occurs when the tight neck muscles pull at the base of the head. This type of headache often shows up as a pain in the back of the head and base of the skull.
There are other potential reasons for headaches, however, and some can be serious. The head may hurt if it struck an object, such as the steering wheel, dashboard or side door. If the headache progresses, it may turn in to a migraine, in which there may be nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light. If there was a blow to the head, the victim may have a concussion and should treat pain at a pain management clinic.
If the accident and resulting whiplash caused a cervical disc to slip, this can cause a pinching to the nerves in the neck. This type of headache, caused by occipital neuralgia, is often sharp, throbbing or piercing, and its location usually starts in the upper neck and then moves to the back of the head or behind the ears.
If there is localized, persistent pain in the head, and there is also slurred speech, confusion, neck stiffness, and nausea, there may be a fracture in the skull, which needs immediate and emergency attention. Another possibility for a headache that shows up later is a subdural hematoma, and pain management doctors can help diagnose this.
Back pain is another commonly delayed symptom. Low back pain is especially common after a side-impact or rear-end crash. This pain often indicates damage to the muscles and ligaments in the back. However, if there is also localized pain to one of the spine’s vertebrae, this may indicate a fracture or damage to this spinal level.
Numbness in the extremities, particularly the arms, hands and fingers, is common, especially if there was whiplash. Numbness and tingling occur when the nerves coming out of the cervical spine are experiencing pressure or injury. This results in the nerves not being able to transmit signals correctly to the extremities.
One common injury that car accidents cause is a traumatic brain injury. There are various severity levels of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and if a crash victim hits an object and experiences a concussion, this is indicative of a mild brain injury. Because it is mild, some victims do not notice many, if any, symptoms, especially at first. However, having a foggy brain or having difficulties remembering things is an indication that there may be some damage.
Some people identify a concussion with having a loss of consciousness. Although a brief loss may occur, there may be no loss of consciousness if there is a mild TBI. If an individual is suffering from confusion and also has fatigue, nausea, headache, light sensitivity, dizziness or ringing in the ears, it is important to make an appointment with pain management doctors to determine if there is a brain injury and, if so, to what extent.
In most cases of mild traumatic brain injury, the symptoms clear up on their own within a week or two. However, working with a pain management specialist and keeping a close eye out for worsening symptoms will help to minimize any further potential damage.
If someone notices swelling of the abdomen, this could indicate internal bleeding. This bleeding sometimes takes a while to show up, so it may not be noticeable for hours or even days. Other common symptoms are often deep bruising and fainting. This is a life-threatening condition, and the individual should seek emergency care immediately.
Not all delayed symptoms are physical. Post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon after an accident. Although many accident victims may have some hesitancy about driving or getting into a car the first few days after an accident, these feelings usually go away after a little while.
However, pain management doctors notice that mood disorders occur in around 50% of those who are in collisions. Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are common.
When these mood disorders continue for a period of time, and the crash victim also has intrusive memories, negative thoughts and is avoiding social and familial functions, there is a good chance he or she has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Studies show that anywhere from 25 to 39% of crash victims have PTSD at least 30 days after a motor vehicle accident. If someone is suffering from PTSD or other mood disorders, a pain management clinic can recommend the necessary treatment and therapy to help manage the symptoms.
Although most people would not question seeking care and treatment after a serious accident, fewer of them seek treatment after a minor accident, especially if they are not experiencing any pain or symptoms right after the crash. Because many of the symptoms show up later, an individual involved in a motor vehicle accident should seek care and pain relief from a pain management specialist as soon after the crash as possible.
At Injured Call Today, we conduct a thorough exam to determine if there is any underlying damage from the accident. This exam may include X-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to see what the extent of nerve or tissue damage there is. Based on the results of the exam, the diagnosis, severity of the injury and prognosis, the patient will receive a recommended treatment plan.
This plan often includes treatment at the pain management clinic, and it may be with one or more healthcare providers. For many issues, such as whiplash, numbness, and muscle strains, treatment will often be with a chiropractor, physical therapist or both.
A chiropractor examines the spine to determine where there is nerve pressure. Treatment is often in the form of a chiropractic adjustment to return the spine to its normal position and restore function to the nerves. Physical therapy involves returning normal function to the muscles and joints and improving the range of motion. If the patient is recovering from a fracture, PT can help retrain and strengthen the muscles. It also helps encourage healing and assists with pain management.
If a crash victim is still suffering from injury-related pain months after the accident, a pain management regimen may be necessary. Potential treatment methods may include anti-inflammatory or trigger-point injections, pain medicine, stimulators, nerve blockers, acupuncture, and relaxation methods. A pain management specialist will often try more conservative methods first. If these do not work, surgery may be a recommendation.
A consultation with a neurologist may be necessary for some people after an accident. A neurologist will help with traumatic brain injury symptoms and can work with other healthcare providers to treat headaches or numbness in the extremities.
Other signs that indicate the need to see a neurologist include weakness that does not improve, involuntary spasms, bladder issues and vision or hearing problems. A neurologist also has the diagnostic tools available to detect underlying issues that other medical providers are not able to figure out.
People who have experienced significant physical injuries or are recovering from a brain injury may need physical and mental rehabilitation. Rehab helps to retrain the injured areas so they can function normally or as close to normal as possible.
The injuries sustained in a car accident can vary from minor to severe. Unfortunately, it is common for pain and other symptoms to appear after the clearing of an accident, which sometimes prevents accident victims from pursuing the treatment they need.
At Injured Call Today, we strongly recommend that anyone who is in an accident seek a consultation with a pain management doctor, even if there are no current symptoms. This helps catch problems early before they become worse and can also detect serious problems that need emergency care. If you have been in a crash, schedule a consultation right away and start getting back to a pain-free life.
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