After a car accident, you may have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent. It’s important that you seek physical therapy as soon as possible to prevent long term mobility or pain issues.

Just because your car accident wasn’t severe doesn’t mean you can ignore injury treatment. Often injuries go unnoticed until they cause serious impairment. Even fender benders under 20 miles per hour can cause injuries that require exercise, rehabilitation, or physical therapy to treat properly.

driver with a neck injury after a car accident

What Injuries Do Car Accidents Cause?

The most common areas that can be affected by automobile accidents are:

  • Neck (often called whiplash)
  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Head

Any areas that are in contact with the car may experience the same impact that the car itself does. This includes all joints along the driver’s arms and legs, as drivers are holding the steering wheel and pressing the pedals during most accidents.

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How Do I Know if I’m Injured?

Clear signs you’ve got injuries include:

  • Swelling
  • Excess stiffness or loss of mobility
  • Nausea
  • Lasting Aches and Pains

Sudden impact often forces joints into unnatural positions for a split second. Coming to a sudden stop during an accident also compresses vertebrae together, potentially damaging the soft tissue in between each bone in your back.

This compression results in miniscule tears in muscle and fascia. At first, your body compensates for this damage with a burst of adrenaline, which is why drivers and passengers don’t always immediately feel pain.

Over time, these tiny tears in your body tissue may begin to cause aching as they repair themselves. Sometimes, if they aren’t allowed to repair properly, aches can develop into chronic pain. This pain may vary between dull and nagging aches to recurring sharp pain, depending on the nature of your injury.

How Do I Recover from Car Accident Injuries?

As with any other injuries, a common form of recovery technique is the R.I.C.E. method.

R.I.C.E. stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

However, if you’ve been in a car accident, you should also consult a doctor to ensure that your injuries are addressed appropriately. It’s likely he or she will recommend physical therapy as a cautionary measure.

How Does Physical Therapy Help my Car Accident Injuries?

Once tissues start to repair, they will also develop layers of scar tissue, which is thicker than the original muscle. This thick scar tissue can get in the way when you try to extend your arms or legs, resulting in serious mobility limitation.

One way to prevent mobility loss is with a clinically prescribed exercise plan. Experienced physical therapists are able to analyze any damage sustained during a car accident, and can tell you exactly how to repair it safely.

Often, a physical therapy treatment plan includes two types of continuing care:

  • Guided exercises assisted by your therapist
  • Regular self-paced exercise

In general, these exercises won’t put too much strain on your body. Physical therapy is intended to restore and maintain flexibility and reduce injury. What this means for your sore muscles is that, while they may be stretched vigorously, you shouldn’t end up panting or out of breath by the end of your exercises.

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