Every time you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you are at risk of being involved in an accident. Here are some statistics for Florida, there is an average of 702 crashes per day. Most traffic accidents occur on Fridays during the 5:00 PM hour. The majority of fatal crashes happen on Saturdays during the 7:00 PM hour. Here are the most common types of impacts you may encounter and the types of injuries associated with them:
LOW SPEED IMPACTS and REAR-ENDERS
These are crashes at speeds under 10 MPH. Many believe that because the crash occurs at low speed with very little car damage, they could not possibly have incurred any injury. The truth however is that an injury can and absolutely does occur when a low impact collision takes place. The most common is identified as the “Whiplash”. The driver can get injured because they are unaware of the coming impact and can’t brace themselves. The car can absorb the shock of the impact, person may not be so fortunate. In a recent study examining low impact collisions, researchers found that an 8 mph rear-end collision may result in a 2 g-force acceleration of the impacted vehicle and a 5 g-force acceleration acting on the driver’s head. The point is that the head and neck experience more g-forces than the car in low-speed impacts. “Soft Tissue” injuries take place, including multiple body bruises, chest and rib injuries and intervertebral disc injuries. Cars are made of steel and hard plastics, the human body is not! If metal bends on your car, the soft tissues in your body will definitely absorb a lot more of the impact.
In this type of impact, the driver is aware of the impending collision and can brace for impact. The injuries sustained in this type of injury depend on two things: the speed and size of the vehicle hitting you. The most common injuries seen are: Head and neck, back, spine, rib and clavicle, arms and legs, concussions, soft tissue, internal, dislocations, abrasions, cuts and bruises.
In this type of impact, the driver’s head will hit the side window or side bar of the door, depending on the type of car, there are usually no air bags to protect you and there are definitely no bumpers to cushion the blow. Common injuries sustained are to the head and neck, arms & legs, numbness or tingling, soft tissue injuries such as disc herniations and bulges, dislocations, scrapes and bruises.
This type of accident is very serious. People get into these types of accidents when approaching a curve at too high a speed, leaving the pavement or highway, or over-correcting the steering wheel. The roll-over speed usually happens when people drive between 40 to 60 MPH. Damage caused is obviously extensive. Injuries sustained are the same as the previous four categories and can be a lot more serious.
THE MOST COMMON INJURIES
The most common injuries sustained in car accidents are to the neck and back. Whiplash is the most common and occurs when the head is suddenly or violently thrust forward and then backward when a car is rear-ended. The neck hyper extends, the joints in the neck get jammed and the delicate tendons and muscles can be damaged even at speeds as low as 15 mph. Symptoms of whiplash include swelling, neck pain, tenderness in the back of the neck, muscles spasms in the side or back of the neck, difficulty moving the head and neck, headache, and shooting pain from the neck down the arms. The neck can also be sprained, strained, or fractured and produce similar symptoms. Back pain is also a common injury and symptoms like pain and soreness may indicate a more serious injury.
Legs, knees, hands, arms, shoulders and heads are also susceptible to injuries as they may come into contact with hard surfaces during the collision. A concussion is also common in collisions where the head strikes a hard object and victims need to be closely monitored if this is the case. Concussions can get worse over time, and a doctor can instruct you on signs to look for. Any body part can get bruised or cut.
It is always important to seek care after a car accident if you feel pain or stiffness, even if it doesn’t appear right away. You may be in shock or get a rush of adrenaline right after the accident and not realize you have an injury. Imaging tests like x-rays can show if there are any fractures, as well as tests like an MRI or CT scan will be needed to show soft tissue damage. Joints, muscles and tendons that are damaged may take a while to heal and it is important to seek care.
THE MOST COMMON SOLUTION
Doctors of Chiropractic have the skills and training to effectively relieve the pain and other debilitating symptoms of whiplash by restoring your full range of motion, realign your spine, and increase the strength and flexibility of your neck muscles. If you experience the symptoms of a whiplash injury in a rear-end car accident or if you experience any other pain, mid back, low back, shoulder, hip or any other joint pain, do not wait for the symptoms to go away; seek treatment immediately, no matter how minimal the pain!
If you do ignore the symptoms and do not seek care, you make your body susceptible to degenerative changes such as arthritis in the joints and discs as well as formation of scar tissue in your muscles and ligaments. All of these changes are permanent and cannot be reversed. By avoiding treatment, you will only prolong your recovery and lower your quality of life.