If you’ve been in a car accident – even a relatively minor one – there’s a lot you worried about. “How quickly can I get my car fixed?” “How much will my insurance cover?” “How am I going to get to work and run errands till it’s fixed?”
With all the stress and all the logistical problems to solve, it’s easy to forget about the most important thing: your health. In 2020 alone, car accidents led to 4.8 million medically documented injuries.
- Slipped or herniated discs
- Sprains and strains
- Facet joint injuries
- Muscle spasms
- Pinched nerves
- Stiff muscles and tendons
Since the damage in all these cases is internal, it can be difficult to tell the difference between minor injuries and major ones without the expertise of an orthopedic specialist. Furthermore, relatively minor problems can turn into worse ones further down the road if they’re left untreated.
5 Reasons to see an orthopedic surgeon after a car accident
1. To access expert solutions
Most primary care physicians will refer their patients directly to an orthopedic specialist after a car accident, as the typical injuries sustained in a crash are time-sensitive and difficult to detect. Orthopedic surgeons don’t just treat broken bones: they treat soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, and torn muscles and ligaments.
A lot of the symptoms people commonly experience after they’re hurt in a car accident can be easy to shrug off if you don’t know better. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the shoulder, back, or neck
- Knee trauma
- Stiffness and restricted mobility
- Shallow breathing
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in your arms, hands, or fingers
- Grinding or popping sounds when moving joints
All of these symptoms can be minor, or they can be indicative of larger internal problems, and without consulting an orthopedic surgeon there’s no way for you to know.
Expert orthopedic specialists, like the kind you’ll find at Alexander Orthopaedics, have the knowledge, training, and state-of-the-art equipment necessary to accurately diagnose your symptoms and start you on a treatment plan that gets you feeling better now and prevents future complications.
An orthopedic surgeon will be able to determine whether you’ve sustained any significant soft tissue damage using X-Rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). They’ll also monitor you for symptoms that you might not have realized were related, such as confusion, sleepiness, or trouble talking, all of which can be evidence of a concussion.
2. To prevent degenerative diseases
The injuries people suffer when they’re hurt in a car accident can often lead to or complicate other pre-existing or long-term problems, such as:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Repetitive motion problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Head, neck, or back trauma
All of these pre-existing conditions can be re-triggered or aggravated by a bad car accident. And if they’re left untreated, these problems can worsen over time. For instance, weakened or damaged discs in the spine can slowly lead to bone spurs as the body attempts to compensate for the additional pressure caused by weakened discs. These spurs can compress or impinge the spinal cord and put stress on nerves over time, resulting in pain or numbness.
3. To protect your finances
We’ve mentioned the medical reasons why seeking treatment for injuries from a car accident is time-sensitive, but there are financial reasons as well.
If you’re hurt in a car accident, the state of Florida requires you to seek treatment within 14 days in order to qualify for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance benefits. That’s why it’s essential to see an orthopedic specialist quickly after an accident: so you can be properly diagnosed so that your PIP insurance will cover any resulting health problems.
Even if your symptoms are relatively light – say, bruising, swelling, and some stiff muscles or aching joints – it pays to see a doctor to make sure you’re okay. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you wait two weeks, and your symptoms don’t go away – or even get worse – your PIP insurance will no longer cover any subsequent diagnosis you get from a doctor.
4. To get ahead of the pain
In addition to promoting your long term physical and financial well-being, you should visit an orthopedic specialist after a car accident in order to address any pain you may be experiencing. There’s no virtue in trying to “tough it out”: too often people avoid going to the doctor even while they’re suffering because they’re worried about getting bad news, or because they decide they can live with their symptoms and they’d rather struggle through it alone than receive help.
But ignoring these problems won’t make them go away. The pain you experience after a car accident can get worse or lead to worsening symptoms over time if it’s not treated properly at the start. While surgery is sometimes necessary to treat severe injuries, chances are the pain you’re experiencing after a car accident can be treated with other lower impact forms of treatment, such as:
- Gentle stretching, massage, or chiropractic techniques
- Applying ice to the area
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
If your orthopedic doctor does recommend surgery, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to stay in the hospital. Alexander Orthopaedic Associates specializes in outpatient surgery, which makes it possible for you to recover at home in comfort rather than staying in the hospital for several days. Our mobile medical therapy team will help prepare your home for your recovery and check on you after a procedure in order to oversee the recovery process.
5. To improve your quality of life
As with any trip to a medical specialist, ultimately the goal of visiting an orthopedic surgeon after a car accident is to ensure your long term health and improve your quality of life.
Even light symptoms after a car accident can be painful and difficult to deal with. Bruising, swelling, soreness, stiffness, and aching are all common enough experiences in everyday life that we don’t always immediately think to call a doctor about them. But treating these symptoms right away will improve your day-to-day quality of life immensely.
With proper treatment and guidance from an orthopedic doctor, what might have been a month or two of pain could be shortened to a few days or a week. Making a small difference in how you feel now can make a big difference weeks or months down the road.
Get the help you need at Alexander Orthopaedics
There’s no question: being in a car accident is a stressful – often traumatic – experience. Don’t make your stress worse by putting off the treatment you need. Make an appointment with the specialists at Alexander Orthopaedic Associates so you can get an expert opinion, prevent any long term health problems, and speed up your recovery after the accident.
From over-the-counter drugs and targeted exercise techniques to physical therapy to outpatient surgery, Alexander Orthopaedics help you feel better faster. Schedule an appointment today.