WHAT TO EXPECT AND SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

WHAT TO EXPECT AND SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

July 28, 2023

Have you been in a car accident before? If so, I bet you’re familiar with the delayed onset of pain that occurs post Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA). The adrenaline rush from a car accident may initially leave you processing what happened rather than focusing on how your body feels. As a result, you may feel the effects on your body a day to a week after the accident.

WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER A CAR OR MVA ACCIDENT

Have you ever woken up feeling globally sore, with a splitting headache, and so tired you don’t want to get out of bed? Was this after a car crash? Because a week after my car accident, I could hardly walk. I was in an insurmountable amount of pain due to spasming in my low back. In order to try to overcome the pain, I had several weeks of physical therapy so I could endure competitive high school athletics at the time.

I can recall this happening to me as a young 14-year-old. However, immediately after the wreck occurred, I jumped out of the car and didn’t feel any different. I skipped and jogged around with my friend who had joined me in the backseat.

Unfortunately, this is all too predictable and common. I’ve seen this story so many times with patients hobbling into the clinic several weeks after a car accident. They are sore all over their bodies. Sometimes these individuals also have sensitivity to light or noise.

HOW CAN PHYSICAL THERAPY HELP?

Physical therapists tease out what is most problematic after the accident in order to address the pain. Treating someone after a car wreck takes a more global approach to ensure certain larger injuries and complications are not overlooked. There are many complications that can occur, but I’ll discuss the two most common injuries below.

​​SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

UPPER CERVICAL DYSFUNCTION AND TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DYSFUNCTION (TMD):

Often, due to whiplash, there is dysfunction in the neck and jaw. These two structures are tightly connected.

UPPER CERVICAL DYSFUNCTION AND TMD:

  • Difficulty moving your neck
  • Others notice you move your whole body rather than your neck to look at them
  • Can’t find a pillow that feels good (Goldilocks syndrome)
  • Tightness or spasms in the neck
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling down the neck, one or both arms
  • Difficulty holding your head up throughout the day (experiencing fatigue and wanting to lay your head down)
  • Pain in face
  • Pain in ear
  • Clicking or popping in ear/jaw area
  • Pain upon closing or opening the jaw
  • Difficulty chewing things that are sticky or very crisp like biting into an apple

Any and all of these symptoms are reasons that you should visit a physical therapist (PT). This healthcare professional will perform specific tests to ensure ligaments are not damaged in the neck and can refer out to doctors who may recommend imaging. Physical therapists also look at the range of motion (ROM) or mobility in the muscles and joints in your neck or jaw.

Physical therapists then diagnose interventions to increase flexibility and strength, reduce spasms, and improve your pain once more severe injuries are ruled out. One of these more serious injuries are concussions.

CONCUSSIONS:

Concussions are much more at the forefront of healthcare than in years past. Once overlooked in vehicle accidents, it is now screened for in PT offices, and by mobile physical therapists. The below symptoms are not all-inclusive, there are less common symptoms not listed. If you don’t have any of the symptoms below but still don’t feel like yourself, make sure you make an appointment with a qualified medical professional.

  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading
  • Visual changes (double vision, tracking issues)
  • Cognitive fatigue (overload inability to process incoming information)
  • Difficulty maintaining focus
  • Change in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Emotional lability (crying more than you normally do, getting upset easily, irritation, anger, etc.)
  • Word finding issues
  • Easily tired

MORE FACTS ABOUT CONCUSSIONS

The symptoms you experience actually correlate with the part of the brain that was injured. However, there are endless ways a concussion presents and no one presents the same. It is on a case-by-case basis. A physical therapist can collaborate with physicians and other providers such as neurologists, optometrists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc. in order to gain greater insight into the injury and provide targeted interventions as a result. If you find yourself experiencing any of the symptoms above, reach out to your doctor and talk with your PT.

CONCLUSION

Experiencing a motor vehicle accident can be incredibly traumatic, emotionally and physically. It’s important, no matter how small the accident, to check in with your Physician and your Physical Therapist. There you can rule out more serious injuries as well as manage symptoms early before they progress and become a chronic issue. Don’t forget about your mental health either as this is equally important! Wishing you happiness and health if this is your journey.

ABOUT BATEMAN THERAPY SERVICES

Bateman Therapy Services is a family-owned professional physical therapy practice. Mobile physical therapy allows us to easily provide physical therapy to Livermore, Pleasanton, Danville, San Ramon, and the surrounding area. Many people treat outpatient physical therapy the same as any other pain management, like massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. However, physical therapy is different because the goal is to prevent your pain before it happens. Physical therapy keeps you living the life you want to live and helps train you for the life you want to lead.

We specialize in all conditions of movement, including but not limited to: sports medicine, lower back pain, stretches for sciatica, hip labral tear, shoulder labrum, arthritis, outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy, virtual physical therapy, and more which can be found here. We can even help you find a car accident lawyer to help you claim a settlement for a car accident. For the best physical therapy near you, click the button below to call Bateman Therapy Services.

You can also find us on popular search directories like nextdoor by clicking this link.

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