Nearly 3 million people are injured in a car accident every year in the United States, according to a report by the Center for Disease Control. These injuries range from the minor (bumps and bruises) to the major (paralysis or brain injury) and even death. Every person’s journey to physical recovery after an accident is different, but there are some common elements that most people will encounter. Have you suffered an injury due to an accident? Here’s what to do:
Visit a Doctor
Even if your symptoms don’t seem ‘that bad’, you should make an appointment with a doctor. It can take several days for symptoms to appear, and you may not realize an area was injured unless you get checked out by a doctor. A few simple tests should help them identify areas that may have been affected during the accident.
Follow a Rehabilitation Program
After your doctor has diagnosed you, they may develop a plan for your recovery. This can include rest, pain relievers or avoiding using a specific part of your body. Depending on the extent of your injury and pain, they may recommend strengthening exercises or physical therapy.
Your Mental Health
Physical pain is sometimes the result of emotional trauma. Accidents can cause increased levels of stress or PTSD. If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms or pain, speaking to a therapist may help.
Manage Wound Care
If you have external injuries that required treatment, you may need to care for the wound through dressing or cleaning. Follow your doctor’s instructions on the best way to monitor and manage the injury. Look for signs of infection that may include discharge, swelling, redness, fever or unusual tenderness. Contact your health care provider immediately if any of these signs appear.
Give Yourself Time
You may be tempted to rush back into your routine. But accidents can be traumatic for both your physical and emotional health. Take your time returning to work, school or sports. No matter how good you feel, wait for your doctor’s clearance before resuming your regular activities.
What might you experience after an accident?
Headaches are a common ailment after an accident. Some people may develop a headache in the days following the accident, which is perfectly normal. It can be the result of whiplash, shoulder and neck tension or a concussion. In some cases, it can be a sign of anxiety or PTSD. Headaches can be annoying but can be a sign of an underlying problem. If you develop a headache after an accident, contact your doctor to make sure there aren’t any additional problems developing.
- Back, Shoulder or Neck Pain
Tightness or pain in your back, shoulders or neck is typical after an accident. The pain may be localized in one part of your body or shoot down your arms or legs. Pain in these areas can be caused by injury to the area, tissue or nerve damage or stress. Don’t ignore the pain – seek help in alleviating and reducing pain associated with your accident.
Damage to the blood vessels in your skin can cause bruising. Most of the time, bruises won’t develop right away. It may take several days for them to appear as the blood from the broken vessels moves towards your skin’s surface. Bruises typically go away on their own, but if your bruises do not improve, consult with your doctor about what else could be wrong.
- Nerve Damage
You may experience pain along with tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, shoulders, neck or back. Let your doctor know right away if these symptoms show up.
- The After Effects
Right after an accident, your body is flooded with adrenaline. It can work to suppress pain while you deal with the immediate needs following an accident. Because of the high levels of hormones, you may not feel pain from injuries until later. So, even though you may feel ‘perfectly fine’ right after an accident, in the days following you may notice unusual symptoms or increasing levels of pain.
Your physical recovery can take days, weeks or even years, depending on the severity of the accident and your injuries. Your recovery is personal – what may be a quick recovery for others may take longer for you. That’s perfectly normal. Your age, overall health and treatment can play a part in how quickly and effectively you heal.
Are you recovering from a car accident? Find out how we can help you minimize pain while maximizing your recovery process. Call us today to schedule an appointment.