One of the most common injuries that you find in car accidents is a neck injury or “whiplash” injury. Many people who get rear-ended by another driver find that they have pain in their neck that may start immediately or may start a few days later. This may also be called a “soft tissue” injury. When a force strikes you from behind such as another car, this causes small tears in the ligaments and causes the neck to be stretched and torn, moved back and forward or moved to the side. This forceful motion can cause constant pain and discomfort for months or even years into the future.
When an injured victim does suffer a “whiplash” injury, it is very common for the insurance industry to look at these types of injuries as relatively minor (as say compared to broken bones, brain damage, disfigurement, etc.). A lot of insurance companies do not even believe that “whiplash” is a legitimate injury and will fight these types of claims or cases to the very end. Soft tissue injuries like whiplash are difficult to see as you cannot really see them on an X-Ray so there is the belief that they somehow do not exist. But, for anyone who has had to endure the constant pain and suffering of these types of injuries, it is very real! In my opinion, these soft tissue injuries can be worse than broken bones. Broken bones usually heal and everything is fine. These soft tissue, whiplash-type injuries are sometimes very permanent and can persist throughout one’s life in a permanent way.
What is the treatment for soft tissue injuries? Most soft tissue injuries are treated with physical therapy, chiropractic medicine, pain management medicine or some combination of all of these. A lot of people swear that chiropractic care helps them with the pain and discomfort while other people prefer to receive injections from a pain management specialist or anesthesiologist. One type of healing is more natural in nature and the other is more traditional western medicine. I have found personally that a combination of different specialties and different theories of medicine best promote the healing process.
Maybe not quite as common with car accidents are injuries to the legs and arms. Leg injuries can occur especially to the knee where a traumatic force to the knee results in contusions and torn ligaments. Arm injuries can also result in torn rotator cuffs from the force of the impact. Also quite common from the impact of a car accident is an injury to the individual discs in one’s back and neck, resulting in a herniated disc. Herniated discs can cause damage to the nerves and could eventually require surgery. Most people do try therapy first and if that does not help, then surgery may be indicated. Nowadays, laser surgery is frequently used to reduce the impingement of the disc on the nerves. This less invasive type of surgery can provide much-needed relief after months of suffering.
In summary, car accidents can cause a multitude of different injuries and I have tried to mention a few of the most common types of injuries. Frequently, along with the muscular and ligament damage, drivers or passengers may sustain psychological damage similar to PTSD. Many of my clients are afraid to drive after an accident and may be psychologically impaired by an accident. So, as well as the physical damage caused in an accident, mental distress can also result.