We don’t usually think about it, but driving a car is one of the riskiest things we do each day. In the U.S. there are about 6 million reported automobile accidents per year. In Florida alone, there were over 400,000 car accidents just in 2021, resulting in 253,000 reported injuries.
While fatal car crashes grab the headlines, more often people suffer less-obvious injuries. Strained, sprained, or torn muscles and ligaments, broken bones, slipped discs: these are all common after a car accident, but they result in a wide range of symptoms – some of which develop slowly and can lead to chronic conditions.
At Alexander Orthopaedic Associates in Palm Harbor, our team of specialists has the expertise, the experience, and the equipment to treat whatever problem you’re having after an accident.
Where do I get car accident injury treatment in Palm Harbor?
Even if you “feel fine” after a car accident, it’s still important to get yourself checked by an orthopedic specialist. In fact, many general practitioners often refer their patients directly to orthopedic doctors after an accident.
Orthopedic doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating bone, joint, and muscle injuries. If you don’t go to see an orthopedist, what started out feeling like a minor twist or ache could snowball into something bigger.
Many of the injuries sustained in a car or motorcycle accident are very time-sensitive, so it’s important to see a specialist as soon as you can. Our team of doctors, nurses, and physical therapists can intervene to fix small problems before they get worse. At minimum, we can give you a specialist’s assurance that you haven’t suffered any underlying injuries that could compound with time.
Common symptoms people experience after a car accident include:
- Shoulder, neck, or back pain
- Numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation in your arms, hands, or fingers
- Grinding or popping when moving joints
- Restricted movement
- Inability to lift objects
In Florida, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance covers treatment for automobile accidents even if the accident was your fault. But most PIP insurance has a 14-day limitation on seeking medical reimbursement, so it makes sense to seek treatment right away just in case – this way it won’t end up costing you more later.
I have back pain after a car accident.
The human spine is made up of three sections: the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back, the thoracic vertebrae in the upper back, and the cervical vertebrae in the neck and shoulders. When you’re in a car accident, particularly a front or rear collision, your body is suddenly thrown into motion and then jerked to a stop, either by colliding with the car or by being restrained by your seat belt.
Injuries resulting from an automobile collision usually affect the lower back. Traumatic injury can damage ligaments, muscles, or tendons, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate, irritating nearby nerves and causing pain or numbness that can radiate out to several different parts of the body.
Immediately after an accident, people often feel sore all over, so it’s often hard to determine what particular parts of your body have been injured. It’s important to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor right away, because chronic lower back pain can be debilitating. Alexander Orthopaedics treats lower back pain with a variety of surgical and non-surgical procedures depending on the severity of the symptoms. Non-surgical treatment options include:
- Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI) – an injection to relieve nerve inflammation causing neck or back pain that radiates out to the arms or legs.
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) – a minimally-invasive procedure that uses electric current to relieve irritated nerve fibers, particularly effective for neck and back pain caused by trauma or arthritis
- Stem Cell Therapy – a novel therapy that injects stem cells into pain-producing areas in order to relieve pain by regenerating damaged tissue
I have neck pain after a car accident.
In a car accident – particularly a rear end collision – your neck often rushes forward then gets suddenly whipped back. Since seatbelts restrain the rest of your body, often the neck takes the brunt of the force. This often results in soft tissue damage – the condition is usually referred to as “whiplash.” Symptoms of whiplash can include:
- General neck pain or stiffness
- Inability to turn your neck from side to side or up or down without pain
- Loss of range of motion
- Headaches, usually starting at the base of the skull
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Shoulder pain
It’s important to receive immediate treatment for whiplash because the symptoms can take 2 to 4 weeks to develop and can occasionally lead to chronic pain or other long-lasting conditions. It’s possible to sustain whiplash even from relatively low speed collisions – as low as 15 mph.
Neck pain can also be caused by more serious injuries to the soft tissues and cervical vertebrae such as:
- Pinched nerves
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Facet joint injuries
- Cervical spondylolisthesis
In Florida, PIP insurance covers treatment for only 14 days after an accident, which is shorter than the amount of time it sometimes takes for whiplash symptoms to fully develop. You should see an orthopedic specialist if you’re experiencing any neck pain whatsoever following an automobile collision.
Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system means that there is no allowance for damages from pain and suffering due to ongoing or chronic conditions caused by an accident. Consequently it’s all the more important to get any injuries diagnosed early on before they turn into something worse later and you have no legal recourse.
I have headaches after a car accident.
Automobile accidents can result in any number of different head injuries, ranging from mild concussions to traumatic brain injuries to a subdural hematoma, in which blood pools between the brain and the skull.
One of the most common symptoms after a car accident is a headache, sometimes accompanied by trouble concentrating, problems sleeping, and sometimes even nausea and vomiting.
Car accidents can also lead to cervicogenic headaches, when pain originating from a neck or spinal injury travels to the head. These are often misdiagnosed as migraines. Without an examination by an orthopedic specialist, the underlying cause of these headaches will often go unnoticed.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. But neck pain can often be treated with non-surgical procedures – ranging from ice, at the very simplest, to stem cell therapy.
Where can I find specialized orthopedic care in Palm Harbor?
When you visit Alexander Orthopaedic Associates in Palm Harbor, our doctors will assess your injuries and create a treatment plan. You’ll be able to get X-rays, MRIs, and physical therapy, all at one location.
Sometimes surgery may be necessary depending on the severity of the symptoms, but usually less invasive methods are possible; these may include bed rest, ice, nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or physical therapy.
If surgery is necessary, our SmartCare Surgical Center is equipped with advanced new medical technology that makes it possible for patients to go home the same day they receive surgical care. Our Alexander Outpatient Advantage includes medical and therapy teams who work with you to prepare your home for your recovery and make regular visits to evaluate your progress as you heal.
Care Where You Need It, When You Need It
Recovering from a car accident can be stressful. Between getting your car repaired, figuring out temporary transportation, and filing insurance claims, it’s all too easy to forget about your own health and well-being – especially if your injuries aren’t immediately obvious.
At Alexander Orthopaedic Associates, our doctors will know exactly how to diagnose and treat whatever symptoms you’re experiencing. With the assistance of our outpatient total joint liaison and our medical and physical therapy teams, you’ll receive innovative medical and surgical treatment at our office in Palm Harbor and individualized, expert care at home. If you’ve been in a car accident, don’t hesitate – make an appointment today.