Car Accidents Happen.. We Can Help!
Even “fender-benders” can cause injuries. Even worse, most people who have been involved in an automobile accident may not be aware of their injuries or the extent of them.
Michigan Sports and Spine Center has earned a reputation of expertise in the treatment of auto trauma injuries. Our goal at MSSC has been the same since day 1: Get you back to your optimal functionality! Our skilled team of experts identifies the root of the issue through proper diagnosis and develops a comprehensive, aggressive treatment regimen for each patient.
Listed below are some of the ailments associated with auto trauma injuries:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Pain in upper & lower extremities (arms and legs)
- Sprains and strains
Let’s take a deeper look into some of these auto accident-related injuries.
Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe neck pain following an injury to the soft tissue in your neck (specifically ligaments, tendons, and muscles). Whiplash is caused by an abnormal motion or force applied to the neck, which causes movement beyond the neck’s normal range of motion.
When does this type of injury occur?
Example) Rear-end automobile collisions.
Whiplash is most commonly caused by a motor vehicle accident in which the person that is stopped gets struck from behind by another vehicle. The rear impact causes the head and neck to be forced into a hyperextended (backward) position as the seat pushes the person’s torso forward – and the unrestrained head and neck fall backward. After a short delay, the head and neck then return and are thrown into a hyperflexed (forward) position.
Severity? Whiplash injuries range from mild to severe.
What are the symptoms? The main symptom is pain/discomfort in the neck and shoulders.
What are the treatment options? Typically, treatment begins with a non-surgical and non-narcotic approach. We recommend ice and over-the-counter pain relievers if needed. However, if pain persists, treatment can include physical therapy and other alternatives to medication. In some rare cases, fluoroscopy-guided injections may help with relief.
Spinal injuries are common in serious automobile accidents. Vertebral fractures and spinal instability can result from the immense force from a high-speed collision. The lower back is the most common site of back injuries, including sprains, strains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. These injuries can cause pain but also limit mobility. Note that sometimes symptoms of back injuries can take some time to show up after an accident. Unfortunately, back injuries can cause long-lasting discomfort, which is why it’s important to seek treatment with a physician who is an expert in the field of spine care.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Many conditions can cause pain in the neck and shoulder area. Your neck (cervical spine) is made up of vertebrae that extend from your skull to the upper torso. Cervical discs absorb shock between the bones. These bones, ligaments, and muscles of your neck support your head and allow range-of-motion. Any abnormalities, inflammation, or injury can cause neck pain or stiffness.
What are the causes of neck and shoulder pain?
Most neck and shoulder pain results from injury to muscles, ligaments, and surrounding areas. The spinal cord can also cause said discomfort. Here are some examples:
- Whiplash injury: Injury to the ligamentous and muscular structures of the neck and shoulder can be caused by sudden acceleration or deceleration, as in a car accident.
- Rotator cuff injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of muscles at the shoulder. These muscles can be injured by playing sports that involve throwing, such as baseball, or after repetitive use over time.
- Shoulder AC separation: A ligament connects the shoulder blade and collarbone. With trauma to the shoulder, this ligament can be stretched or torn. Treatment for shoulder AC separation ranges from mild if a simple strain (recovers in 2 weeks) to a moderate if there’s a separation that involves more physical therapy to severe if surgical intervention is needed.
- Catch the injury early.
- Start an aggressive treatment program.
- Avoid surgery and long-term problems.
- Bursitis: A bursa is a sac over the joints. This sac provides a cushion to the joints and muscles. These bursa can become swollen and painful after an injury.
- Broken shoulder blade
Arm or Leg Pain
Arms (Upper extremities)
When it comes to pain/discomfort in your upper or lower extremities, some causes are more obvious than others. You do something to injure your arm or shoulder and feel immediate pain, such as in an auto accident. You may have possibly dislocated your shoulder or broken a bone. Perhaps you strained tendons or ligament by carrying too much weight for too long, by lifting something improperly (bending over and straining rather than using your knees/legs to help life). Overreaching or overexerting- such as when you play sports or even by sleeping on it. The resulting pain may range from an everyday ache to an acute pain that makes it hard for you to use the injured extremity.
There are other, less obvious causes of arm pain. This is distinguished by where the discomfort is felt, whether it comes on suddenly or over time, if the pain’s frequency and duration fluctuate, if the pain extends to other joints in your body, or if other symptoms accompany the pain.
What are these other symptoms?
Legs (Lower extremities)
- If you have leg pain, it is usually related to low back and/or hip pathology. We rule this out. Rarely, it is just something in the leg. When we say “rule out,” we mean differentiate from a nerve vs. a vascular issue.
- Leg pain can also be related to musculoskeletal bruising or issues with your vascular system. You can also have damage to the knees, hips, and ankles, which also need to be evaluated for possible tears versus a simple strain—always trying to avoid long-term effects. For a simple strain, the doctor will determine that and put you on a prevention program because the #1 risk factor is a previous injury, and you don’t want problems 10-20 years down the road.
- It’s important to stretch and incorporate joint movement frequently to get pain relief. The knee is a complex joint influenced by muscles from above and below the joint. Knee instability is often compensated for by increased muscle tension in the leg muscles. Car accident injuries that damage these parts of the leg require special attention.
Contact Michigan Sports & Spine Center at (248)426-9944
Why go untreated after an automobile accident? If you’re involved in an accident, whether it occurs on the job or on the road, contact Michigan Sports & Spine Center for a complete post-accident examination from an expert in the field, Dr. Jeff S. Pierce.