If you’ve ever been in a car accident, it goes without saying that they can leave you reeling, figuring out what to do next, and often in pain. While this pain may not always be severe, it’s always important to seek medical attention in the days following an auto accident, despite any reluctance to see a doctor. This is because it can take hours, days or even weeks for the symptoms of severe injuries to manifest—many of which can be life-threatening.
While some post-accident injuries are minor and often involve non-invasive treatment like physical therapy, other common injuries from a car accident — namely those involving the legs, neck and back — do require major surgery. Let’s talk about the most common surgeries after a car accident.
What are the most common surgeries after a car accident?
The type of surgery one needs depends on the severity of the accident and the areas most damaged where your body cannot heal on its own. These procedures can range from corrective surgery such as plastic surgery to life-saving surgeries to stop internal bleeding. In other cases, you may need more than one type of surgery. If possible, you may have the various procedures done simultaneously, depending on the complexity of the procedure.
1. Neck Surgery
During an accident, the neck may take the blunt force of the collision since your body is restrained by a seatbelt. Your neck may also be hit by flying debris from inside or outside the car. Although most people may feel the pain immediately, others don’t do so until a couple of hours or even a few days later. Even so, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately as neck injuries can be quite serious. Some of the neck surgery procedures you may have to undergo are fusion surgery, microdiscectomy, robotic spine surgery, and kyphoplasty.
We commonly hear the term “whiplash” used to describe sudden neck injuries. It is the result of soft tissue damage that can fall under several categories. Common types of neck injuries that may require surgery include a slipped disc, neck strain, facet joint injury, cervical spondylolisthesis, among others. You should also note that your neck injury could get worse if you have an existing neck trauma.
2. Head Surgery
Head and brain injuries are quite common after car accidents. Some of them are mild, while others are severe. The most severe type of brain injury that can lead to long-term medical care, disability, or even death is a traumatic brain injury. 17.3 percent of all yearly reported traumatic brain injury cases are caused by car accidents, making it the second most common cause. There are more than 50,000 reported deaths as a result of traumatic brain injury-related complications annually. If you experienced a rear-end collision type of accident, it’s important to go through further testing to determine whether you experienced brain damage or injury.
Moreover, although you cannot tell whether your brain is bleeding or bruised, numerous symptoms act as telltale signs of severe injury. These include memory lapses, bad headaches that get worse with time, a ringing in your ears, and seizures.
3. Surgery for Fractures and Broken Bones
There’s always the possibility of broken bones from a car accident. It may be something as mild as an arm or severe as broken ribs or a hip fracture. Recovery time for broken bones and fracture surgery varies greatly depending on the type of bone you’ve broken. Additionally, the cost varies from injury to injury. You can note you’ve broken a bone after a car accident when you experience an excessive amount of pain when moving a specific part of your body. You may have fractured a bone you didn’t realize was impacted in the crash. So you’ll want to be aware of any pain or discomfort you feel while standing and sitting, getting in and out of bed or the car, coughing or taking heavy breaths, or shifting positions.
4. Back Surgery
The force of impact during a car accident can also lead to a spinal and back injury. Common types of spinal injuries can include sprains, spondylolisthesis (vertebrae displacement), a herniated disc, compressed fractures, and spinal injuries that can lead to degenerative disorders like sciatica and bone spurs.
These injuries can cause pain to radiate to other parts of your body, so any pain after an accident should be examined immediately. You may experience muscle spasms, tingling or numbness, burning pain, stiffness, or discomfort when changing positions.
If left untreated, you may end up with long-term chronic pain or even paralyzed. That’s why one may require immediate surgery.
5. Foot and Ankle Surgery
Unless you have an obvious direct impact to your foot or ankle during a car accident, you may not even think about a potential injury to those areas.
The sudden impact of a car accident often throws your body forward. Your feet and ankles often absorb your body’s weight in order to protect it. Each foot is made up of 26 different bones, as well as joints, tendons, muscles, and muscles. Your body’s weight, when thrown forward, can impact one or all of those moving parts. Quick diagnosis and treatment are the key to a quick recovery.
The most common foot and ankle injuries during an auto accident are fractures. These can vary from a tiny crack to a fully shattered bone. Other common injuries include ligament and tendon ruptures, ankle sprains, and midfoot dislocation.
Your orthopedist may perform a minimally-invasive arthroscopy to diagnose your trauma. For the most severe or complex injuries, surgery may be required. Some patients experience nerve compression in the foot or ankle, which can be treated with peripheral nerve surgery or nerve decompression. If the ankle becomes immovable, a full ankle replacement may be necessary. Pediatric and adult reconstructive surgery can also reduce symptoms so that patients can get back on their feet and back to daily activities.
When do I seek medical attention for a car accident?
Car accidents can often leave one severely injured and in need of immediate medical attention. However, sometimes it’s easy to think you’re alright and do not need medical attention because you do not feel any pain. You should note that some injuries can manifest later on in numerous ways, including nausea and vomiting. If this happens, it’s important to visit the nearest health facility as you may have suffered a concussion, a brain injury, damage to your digestive system, fractures, or whiplash from the accident.
If you’re reluctant to seek help because of the cost, it’s important to note that you can reduce the cost through various insurance policies like personal injury protection (PIP). This can cover most of your healthcare expenses as a policyholder. It can even cover your injured passengers, so it’s important that they seek medical support as well. If your PIP reaches its limit, your health insurance can sometimes cover the remaining costs. If the accident was not your fault, you might not be responsible for the costs at all.
Schedule an appointment with Alexander Orthopaedics today to discuss your injuries and get medical help as soon as possible.