With more vehicles on the road than ever before, automobile accidents have unfortunately become a common occurrence. Even the most confident and experienced driver can make mistakes that sometimes have catastrophic results. Estimates suggest that there are around 2.35 million auto-injuries in the United States every year – more than 6,000 every single day – and while some injuries may be minor, others can have debilitating and sometimes permanent consequences.
Neck and back damage is among the most common type of injury sustained during automobile accidents. This is because the force of the impact overextends and strains the ligaments and muscles in the back, causing injuries including:
These occur when the upper part of the body is thrown forward while the lower body is restrained by a seat belt. When this happens, the vertebrae can be pulled apart, causing them to fracture. In severe cases, the spinal cord may also become damaged by the fractured pieces of bone.
The intervertebral discs are sponge-like circular pads that sit in-between the vertebrae. They have several functions, including enabling the spine to absorb impacts without becoming damaged. However, if the outer layer of a disc becomes damaged, the soft, inner gel can seep out and irritate the surrounding nerves.
This condition occurs when a vertebra moves out of place due to force or a fracture in the bone. The displaced bone may then press on the surrounding nerves, causing pain and other neurological symptoms.
Whiplash is most common in rear-end collisions as the impact of the secondary car forces your head to ‘whip’ backward and forwards in quick succession and as a result, the muscles in the neck are overextended.
Physical therapy focuses on rebalancing the musculoskeletal system and strengthening your muscles so that the body can heal itself. In doing so, physical therapy can have a number of beneficial effects. These include:
Inflammation is a common side effect of any type of injury and is essentially your immune system rushing to help the damaged area. While some inflammation is an indicator of the body’s natural healing process, too much or chronic inflammation can cause serious pain, autoimmune illnesses, and hypersensitivity.
Pain is a natural occurrence after any type of injury. However, studies have shown that physical therapy after an accident can help release more pain-reducing hormones, which many people prefer rather than a reliance on prescription pain relief.
Scar tissue can form inside the body as well as out, and this thickening of the tissue can cause muscles to feel stiff and uncomfortable. In some cases, the patient may experience a limited range of movement that restricts their day to day activities.
Neck and back injuries almost always have an effect on the patient’s mobility. However, physical therapy will help mobilize your joints and encourage the healing process to begin. As a result, your mobility should begin to return much sooner.
An automobile accident doesn’t have to mean permanent injury or disability. In many instances, physical therapy from a qualified and experienced professional can help reduce your pain and restore your ability to live your life to the fullest once again.