How to treat pain following a car accident

From back pain to whiplash, neck strain to road rash, the adverse health effects highway accidents are all too common. In fact, in 2015, deadly accidents rose substantially, totaling 35,092 – an increase of more than 7 percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s the largest increase in over 50 years.

“1.7 million people were injured in car accidents in 2015.”

But much more common than fatal accidents are those that result in injury. During the same period, injury-related car crashes totaled 1.7 million – an increase of 4 percent from the prior year, which is the equivalent of an additional 67,000, according to NHTSA’s analysis.

Ideally, injuries following a car accident can be both self-diagnosed and self-treated. However, because you don’t have to be moving all that fast to be seriously hurt, it’s important to get yourself checked out by a professional.

Here are some tips to help you reduce pain as quickly as possible following a car accident:

Apply pressure

As previously mentioned, injuries from auto accidents run the gamut, making muscles tender in areas you’ve never experienced before. For the most part, though, neck pain and lower back pain tend to be the most common sources of hurt. Chiropractors say that a variety of topical treatments can be helpful in the early going. For instance, if there’s swelling, apply pressure to the affected part of your body with ice. This will help dull the pain. Heat packs are helpful as well once the swelling has reduced. Over-the-counter oral treatments can also be effective.

See a medical professional ASAP

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An MRI may be necessary following a car accident.

The aftermath of a car accident can be a blur, as not only does local police have to be notified, but insurers as well sometimes more than one if it’s a multi-car incident. And if you’re hurt, that literally adds insult to injury. In order to determine the best source of treatment, contact your primary care physician and explain to him or her what happened and what your symptoms are. Your doctor will likely want you to come in to test your range of motion, depending on where you’re hurting. For instance, if you’re neck is sore after being hit from behind – causing whiplash – your physician may want to see a specialist, perhaps an orthopedist or chiropractor. Together, they’ll be able to come up with the best way to proceed with treatment.

Expect an x-ray

The exam itself may well be the biggest determining factor in what type of treatment you’ll get, but because it’s always good to err on the side of caution, your doctor will want to see the injury at the radiological level. Alternatively, he or she may want you to receive an MRI, which will help determine if there’s been any nerve damage.

Decrease activity

As with exercise, the muscles need to rest in order to grow stronger following a hard workout. And it’s safe to say you shouldn’t be doing any rigorous physical activity following a car accident. Your doctor will have specific orders for you, but in general, reduce the amount of activity you do. You may need to take time off from work if your job entails heavy lifting. Furthermore, a cast may be necessary, especially if the injury affects your neck. Even if your injury isn’t serious, it’s important not to make any sudden movements, as this can make a relatively minor injury worse.

The recovery process following a car accident can truly be a real pain in the neck. Adding to the frustration is the cost of treatment. Your insurance policy may cover your medical expenses, but there’s a good chance your premiums will rise.

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