After a car accident a lot of people don’t seek medical attention thinking that they don’t have any injuries only to realize after few days or weeks that they actually suffered injury or are in a lot of pain. It is important to check yourself right after accident for any sign or symptom of injury. If you have pain, deformity, bruises, skin excoriations, blurry vision, headache, etc. call an ambulance. Also, if you have doubts regarding the possible injuries it is always better to call an ambulance for precaution then to wait that symptoms become more severe.
Once the ambulance arrives to the car accident scene they will check you for the injuries and if they find any indication you will be sent to the nearest emergency room. You may also be sent out of an abundance of caution. There you will need to state that you were involved in car accident and inform health professionals of all the symptoms you have so that the attending doector will have a complete insight of severity of your injuries. The following protocol will depend on the injured area. For example, you won’t get the same examination or diagnostic studies if you suffered head injury or knee injury.
In case of head injury, you will probably need a CT scan in order to determine whether there is brain injury or bleeding inside the brain. On the other hand, most patients with limb injuries will be examined and X-rays will be enough to rule out fractures and dislocations. The same goes with spine injuries, such as whiplash or low back strains. Only in case your doctor suspects on a more severe injury, you will need a CT scan or MRI in order to diagnose it.
Once you are diagnosed, you will be treated. Less severe injuries will be treated in the ER or you will be referred to specialists like orthopedic surgeon, general surgeon, neurologist, etc. for further treatment.
Most injured patients will be sent home with pain killers and advice to rest and to expect that their symptoms will improve after a short period of time. However, not all people will fully recover or their symptoms will last for a longer period of time. Also, some will experience new symptoms during that time. It is very important to visit your doctor if you have new symptoms, if your pain level increases or if your symptoms last too long.
In Beau Correll’s experience, most emergency rooms tend to under-report and under-treat patients.
Depending on your symptoms you might need to consult different specialists or medical professionals.
A lot of people have pain located in the neck or back, with or without radiation, numbness or tingling after car accidents. Some people react well to a period of rest, pain killers, muscle relaxants. But others have symptoms that last longer. In that case, you might need additional examination performed by an orthopedic surgeon in order to rule out more severe injury. You will also probably need to get additional, more sophisticated diagnostic studies, such as CT or MRI. If there are no indications for emergent surgical treatment, you will be referred to physical therapy. After examination performed by a physical therapy specialist you will most likely need a number of different techniques in order to reduce your symptoms. Physical therapy treatment can last for a longer period of time (sometimes several months) but it is a great treatment option for spine injuries after car accidents. 1
In case of spine derangement after car accident, chiropractic treatment might provide good results. Your chiropractor will use spinal manipulation during a series of treatments in order to rearrange your spine to normal pre-injury position.
Another treatment option for spine injuries may be acupuncture, which is based on precisely placed needles in order to reduce the pain and muscle spasm. 2
Some patients might experience dizziness or vertigo after a car accident. It can be caused by a blow to the head or it can be unrelated to head injury. In case of head injury, a CT scan can be done to verify possible injuries. The dizziness can be short-term and last for a very short period of time after the accident and you may not even experience it again. However, there are some cases when dizziness is persistent or so severe that is has a significant effect on normal life activities. In case you have vertigo, you will need a thorough examination performed by neurologist and ENT in order to find the exact cause and to treat it. 3
Head injuries are common in car accidents and the severity varies from lacerations and contusions to brain contusion, brain hemorrhage or comma. Most patients with less severe injuries will be treated in the ER and discharged home. More serious injuries will require a hospital stay and in lot of cases surgery. Patients with more severe head injury will need a number of follow-up examinations and control CT scans or MRI. If you suffered head injury in a car accident and suddenly start having a headache, then you should visit your doctor and probably a neurologist or neurosurgeon in order to determine whether it is accident related. 4
Skin lacerations in car accidents might seem like a minor injury. However, they can cause severe issues and consequences. If your laceration is deep or large in area, you might need sutures and follow-up examinations to check the wound or to remove the stitches. In some cases, wound infection can occur and prolong healing. Also, wounds on visible body parts such as face, arms, hands can cause significant scarring which can be improved by scar revision surgeries performed by plastic surgeon or laser treatments. 5 Correll Law Firm will frequently send accident victims with lacerations for an evaluation for plastic surgery to remove visible scaring, which can help increase the value of the case to achieve a more reasonable settlement.
Limbs are also very commonly injured in car accidents. Less severe injuries resolve with rest, ice, compression, elevation and pain killers. Some more severe injuries like fractures require period of immobilization or even surgery. After injury of extremity you might need an examination performed by orthopedic surgeon in order to determine the best course of action. If you continue having pain in extremity even after negative X-rays, you might need second X-rays or even CT scan or MRI in order to determine the exact cause of symptoms. 6,7
Generally speaking, the emergency room is not the last stop on your treatment plan. If you suffered an injury in car accident, it is more likely that you will need a number of consultations and examinations in order to restore your health.
- “MRI And Low Back Pain: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” Medlineplus.gov. N. p., 2019. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- “Car Accident Treatment | Spine And Injury Clinic Of Laramie.” Spineandinjuryclinic.com. N. p., 2019. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- Endo, Kenji et al. “Cervical Vertigo And Dizziness After Whiplash Injury.” European Spine Journal 15.6 (2006): 886-890. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- “Neuroimaging In Traumatic Brain Imaging.” NeuroRX 2.2 (2005): 372-383. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- “Wounds And Injuries | Fracture | Bruises | Medlineplus .” Medlineplus.gov. N. p., 2019. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- “Need A Knee MRI? Here’S What You Can Expect.” WebMD. N. p., 2019. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.
- ” Pattern Of Injury In Motor Vehicle Accidents .” Worldwidewounds.com. N. p., 2019. Web. 1 Dec. 2019.