Motor Vehicle Injuries
Whether it’s a tapped bumper or a multi-vehicle pile-up, car accidents bring with them a range of consequences. You might feel shaken as you swap insurance cards and wait for tow trucks, but it could be more than just your nerves. Many motor vehicle injuries don’t appear until well after the crash. This is what you should know.
The impact of motor vehicle injuries
Motor vehicle injury (MVI) places a huge burden on many aspects of life in the U.S. and across the globe. Consider the following impacts of motor vehicle injuries:
- Motor vehicle injury, including both medical care and lost productivity, costs an estimated $75 billion annually in the U.S.
- Globally, approximately 1.2 million people die in motor vehicle accidents each year (it’s the number one cause of death in people under 30)
- An estimated 50 million people worldwide suffer from motor vehicle injuries annually
Further, motor vehicle injury can result in chronic pain and a lifetime of challenges for the people who suffer them.
What are the most common motor vehicle injuries?
Of all the injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents, chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) represents the most common medical issue. When your car strikes an immovable object, your body will keep traveling forward until it is stopped. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments stretch past their range of motion quickly before snapping back. This produces a significant amount of stress on the body.
Typically, whiplash appears as neck stiffness and soreness. Severe cases of whiplash can progress to further symptoms, such as:
- Poor balance and coordination
- Loss of memory
Other common types of motor vehicle injuries include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Broken or fractured bones
- Strained muscles
- Head injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Spinal cord injury
What are motor vehicle injury treatments?
Treatments for motor vehicle injuries depend on both the extent of your injury and the injury itself. The best course of action after an accident is to see your doctor immediately. Following an accident, the body provides a surge of adrenaline and cortisol that can mask injuries.
And don’t avoid the doctor if you think it was a small crash. Serious injuries, including whiplash, are possible at speeds as low as eight miles per hour.
After treating acute injuries like broken bones and cuts, other motor vehicle injury treatments include:
- Rest: Usually rest is prescribed for just a day or two after an accident. Much more than that can lead to stiffness, soreness, and problems with range of motion.
- Medication: If you have prescription medications, take them only as prescribed. For minor inflammation and pain, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be useful.
- Hot/cold treatments: Alternate these to relieve inflammation and reduce muscle soreness.
- Chiropractic care: Chiropractic care has been proven to relieve the discomfort of whiplash and to help the spine return to proper alignment.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is used not only to relieve pain but also to counteract the stress and anxiety that may come after a motor vehicle injury.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy helps with a variety of conditions, including muscle sprains, strains, and whiplash.
- Diagnostic blocks: If neck pain persists after the above treatments, medial branch blocks can be done to determine where pain is originating.
- Radiofrequency ablation: If pain is relieved with medial branch blocks, radiofrequency ablation can help disrupt pain signals from the nerves. This may provide long-lasting pain relief when conservative measures have failed. You can learn more about this procedure in the following video.