Car accidents in Canada have declined slightly over the past two decades. Despite this decline, there are still more than 100,000 motor vehicle collisions happening on our roads each year. While injuries can range from minor to severe -- many victims may not understand the full extent of those injuries until several days or even months after the accident.
Because everyone reacts differently to trauma, it may be difficult to know what to expect physically. If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident, here are 5 things you should look out for.
1) Back pain
Back pain is one of the most reported injuries following a collision. Although the discomfort may go away on its own, persistent back pain could be a symptom of soft tissue injury, a sprain, or herniated disc. Not only are these conditions painful, but they could also cause mobility issues that hinder your daily activities.
If you’re experiencing back pain after an accident, seek treatment immediately to rule out more serious damage. In many cases, making a full recovery may require a combination of physiotherapy, massage therapy, and chiropractic care.
2) Neck or shoulder pain
Pain in these areas is a common symptom of whiplash. Whiplash occurs when your head and neck jerk forward and backward very quickly due to impact or rapid braking. If the cervical vertebrae have been fractured, the spinal cord may also be damaged. Because these areas are interconnected, victims will often experience chronic pain in the neck and shoulders. Sometimes the pain is so severe, it may spread down your arms or legs.
You may feel alright immediately after a collision but could wake up to a severe headache the next day. These headaches can be caused by whiplash, tension, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some car accident victims also experience traumatic brain injuries. A mild case could have a temporary effect on your brain cells. More serious cases, however, can result in bleeding, bruising, and other physical damage to the brain.
Monitor your headaches closely, but seek treatment immediately if they’re accompanied by these symptoms:
- Anxiety and depression
- Persistent lightheadedness and dizziness
- Loss of speech, vision, or hearing
- Struggling to read or write
4) Numbness or tingling
Nerve damage is common during a collision and can cause numbness or tingling throughout the body. Whiplash, for example, can pinch a nerve due to intense pressure. Alternatively, blunt force trauma can cause the nerves to become compressed.
If left untreated, this issue could cause serious complications. Treatment usually includes physiotherapy to reduce numbness or tingling sensations. If these problems are also accompanied by severe back pain, spinal decompression is an effective way to relieve pressure from the spinal discs.
Swelling is very common after trauma to the body, and can cause certain areas to increase in size. It usually occurs after a sprain, pulled muscles, or tissue damage. Swelling can be unexpected because it may not appear until days after the collision.
Although you can ice the affected area at home, it’s best to seek professional care if you experience prolonged pain. Your physiotherapist may recommend range-of-motion exercises or massage therapy to speed up recovery.
How Physiomed can help after a car accident
Our teams are trained to look beyond the obvious trauma to create a long-term recovery plan for accident victims. Physiomed is made up of many healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, medical doctors, and psychotherapists. Our team members work together to provide a well-rounded approach to healing that addresses both physical and emotional impact.
And remember: Most of our services are covered by car insurance policies. As always, Physiomed is happy to help patients navigate the paperwork, so you can focus on recovery.
For more information on car accident injuries or to book an assessment, contact us here.