Common Car Accident Injuries and Treatment Options

Woman rubbing neck after car accident injury

Car accidents can cause severe injuries to any part of the body. Some of these injuries are apparent and easier to notice, while others are difficult to identify. That’s why any car accident victim should seek immediate treatment to avoid the potential short and long-term effects of untreated injuries.

What’s the most common type of car accident injury?

Whiplash is the most common type of car accident injury. It results from forceful, rapid back-and-forth neck movement caused by sudden vehicle movement. A moderate accident causes strain in the neck and spine, while a severe accident may damage the ligaments, nerves, muscles, and broken bones.

The signs and symptoms of whiplash develop a few days after an injury and may include the following:

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Loss of motion range in the neck
  • Worsening neck pains due to movement
  • Headaches that start from the base of the skull
  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness in the upper back, shoulders, and arms

You should seek immediate medical attention for accurate diagnosis and to rule out the possibility of broken bones and potential damages that may result in severe symptoms. Treatment differs according to severity. Mild whiplash might heal by itself with minimal medical support, while severe whiplash may require the following treatment:

  • Immobilization
  • Cold application for the first ten days, followed by heat application after that
  • Physical or exercise therapy
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations (TENS) therapy
  • Spine surgery
  • Radiofrequency nerve ablation

4 common types of car accident injuries and treatment

Car accidents may cause various types of injuries on different body parts. Here is a detailed look at the four common car accident injuries and their treatments.

Neck fracture

Neck fractures are one of the most common neck injuries from a car accident. They result from a break of one or several vertebrae in the neck. It’s a severe injury that may result in paralysis or death if left untreated.

Symptoms for this injury can be mild to severe based on its location. The most common symptom is neck pain. You may also experience numbness and tingling that extends to the upper body, swelling around the neck, muscle fatigue, and bruising around the injury site. In severe cases, you may lose sensation in the legs or arms or have paralysis.

There are several treatments for neck fractures. However, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately for a diagnosis and the development of a treatment plan that addresses your injury. Treatment options include neck bracing, pain management, physical therapy, and surgery.

Slipped or herniated disc

A herniated, slipped, or ruptured disc occurs when vertebrae push into the spinal canal, putting pressure on or irritating the spinal cord. This may occur in the lower back or the neck region, depending on the nature of the accident. Symptoms of this injury include a burning sensation, back pain that radiates to other body parts, numbness or tingling that radiates to the foot or leg, and muscle weakness in the affected area.

Doctors usually recommend surgery as the course of treatment for this injury due to its effect on the spinal cord. That’s why seeing an orthopedic surgeon after a car accident is crucial if you experience any of the symptoms described above.

The five types of surgery used to treat herniated discs are:

  • Fusion surgery
  • Discectomy
  • Decompression
  • Artificial disc surgery
  • Vertebroplasty

Lumbar or thoracic vertebrae fractures

Lumbar and thoracic vertebrae fractures are common back injuries from a car accident from high-energy trauma in the lumbar and thoracic spine. The lumbar spine is at the lower back, while the thoracic spine is at the mid-back. There are three types of lumbar or thoracic vertebrae fractures; flexion, extension, and rotation. Your doctor should assess the nature of your fracture to determine the best treatment.

You may experience mild to severe pain. Severe cases that involve the nerves or spinal cord may result in bowel or bladder dysfunction, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the limbs. Car accident victims may also experience brain injury and may lose consciousness. Treatment for this injury includes bracing for mild cases and surgery for severe cases.

Femur fracture

The femur bone might be one of the strongest bones in the body, but it’s also one of the most common bone fractures after a car accident. This fracture usually causes severe leg pain, deformity, and pain in the thigh. You may also experience difficulty moving the leg, inability to walk or stand, and have a bone pushing out through the skin in some cases.

Treatment for femur fracture varies according to severity. Mild fractures can be treated through casting or reduction, while severe cases may require fixation and surgery.

2 hidden car accident injuries to watch out for

Several things happen to the body after a car accident. Some injuries, as discussed above, are apparent, while others might be challenging to spot.

Internal damage and bleeding

Internal damage and bleeding emerge slowly after an accident and become life-threatening after a while. The signs and symptoms of these injuries might also not be obvious enough to decide that your case is severe. They include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain at the injured site
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Unconsciousness
  • Breathlessness
  • Extreme thirst

You may also experience some signs and symptoms specific to concussion, such as loss of memory, confusion, severe headache, dizziness, and wounds on the head.

Please note that nausea and vomiting may indicate other types of injuries. That’s why you should seek immediate treatment to determine whether this is the result of internal damage and/or bleeding.

There are several types of treatment for internal damage and bleeding. Your doctor may recommend blood or intravenous fluids transfusion to raise your blood pressure. Once they’ve managed and assessed the severity of the damage, they may choose surgery or observation as treatment. Several types of injuries can be used to treat these injuries. They include exploratory laparotomy, craniotomy, thoracotomy, and fasciotomy.

Brain injury

A brain injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by a trauma or blow in the head. This injury ranges from mild to permanent brain damage, depending on the impact on the head. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Memory loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

Treatment for brain injury also varies with severity. Mild TBI would require rest and medication to relieve headaches, while severe TBI would require intensive care. A life-threatening brain injury would require neurocritical care or surgery, depending on the nature of the injury.

Get an expert assessment of your car accident injury

Several injuries result from car accidents. You should seek auto-injury treatment if you suffer any of these injuries. At Alexander Orthopaedic Associates, we offer high-quality, patient-focused care to patients with different car accident injuries. We work with our clients through all steps of their treatment and recovery process to ensure the most comprehensive care possible. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your needs and learn more about our services.