If you’re dealing with a neck or back injury as a result of a car accident, you are not alone. Each year, millions of people suffer from a medically consulted car accident injury. In 2019 alone, that number was 4.5 million, according to the National Safety Council.
By taking a proactive approach to your car accident injury, it is possible to find lasting pain relief. The Spine Center Atlanta team is happy to share the following informative guide to help you better understand your treatment options. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Importance of Diagnosing Car Accident Injuries
Anyone in a car accident, no matter how minor, should see a doctor as soon as possible for a check-up. Whether you have health insurance or you are working through your car insurance or a personal injury lawyer, it is beneficial to establish a medical record early in the process. So many causes of pain after a car accident are the result of injuries with a delayed onset of symptoms. Examples can include a back injury such as a herniated disc, or a neck injury such as whiplash.
No matter how long it has been, seeing a qualified health care professional for a diagnosis can help you positively identify your car accident injury and receive focused treatment. Steps you can expect to undergo include:
- A review of your medical history
- A thorough discussion of the car accident
- Questions about your specific symptoms and how they’re affecting daily activities
- A physical examination, including movement tests
- Diagnostic testing if needed, including X-ray or MRI
Once you receive a diagnosis for your car accident injury, you and your provider can work together to develop a treatment plan.
Committing to conservative treatments
Except in the most serious cases, a car accident injury will usually first involve nonsurgical treatment. This is especially true if you have a vehicle-related back injury. Conservative treatment can offer pain relief while helping you regain function. Steps your doctor or treatment provider may recommend include:
- Getting rest and avoiding strenuous activities
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed
- Using a heat source, such as a heating pad, to relax muscles and promote circulation
- Using cold therapy, such as an ice pack, to numb the area and reduce inflammation
- Performing gentle stretches and light therapeutic exercise to stay active, increase range of motion, and keep muscles strong
- Undergoing physical therapy and rehabilitation to increase function and rebuild strength
- Receiving pain-relieving corticosteroid injections
Your health insurance provider and/or personal injury attorney can help you gain a better understanding of the treatment options that are covered for your car accident injury. It is important to find providers who will work with your particular situation.
Staying healthy and active
One aspect of pain relief that many patients overlook when recovering from a car accident injury is how important healthy life choices are. Particularly with back injuries, many people fall into a vicious cycle of becoming overly sedentary. This can lead to problems such as loss of function, weakened supporting muscles, and weight gain that contributes to worsening pain and even mental health problems.
By focusing on your mental and physical health while seeking relief from a car accident injury, you can put yourself in the best position to achieve lasting relief. Many people find success from the following steps:
- Getting regular low-impact exercise
- Practicing good posture
- Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet
- Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use
- Managing weight
Additionally, a significant number of patients find relief through alternative treatments that promote wellness such as therapeutic massage and acupuncture. Coverage can vary, but many health insurance carriers cover these treatments for a car accident injury.
When to Consider Spine Surgery for a Car Accident Injury
Spine surgery is usually seen as a last-resort treatment option for patients dealing with a neck or back injury after a car accident. Conservative and alternative therapies combined with a healthy lifestyle help many people recover and find the pain relief they need for a good quality of life. If weeks or months go by without an improvement in symptoms, however, your health care provider may suggest you consult with a surgeon.
The right surgery for each patient varies on a case-by-case basis, but many patients are now able to undergo minimally invasive spine procedures. This involves muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision and an outpatient procedure. Patients can experience significant back pain relief with a shorter recovery time and less risk of complications.
Trust Spine Center Atlanta for Your Car Accident Injury Treatment
Dr. James L. Chappuis and the caring and dedicated team at Spine Center Atlanta are here to help you at any stage of your pain relief journey. From our state-of-the-art diagnostic center to our physical therapy and rehabilitation center, we’ll help you build a highly personalized treatment plan. If surgery becomes an option, we have a world-class surgery center staffed by highly experienced board-certified surgeons.
Our goal is to help you find the pain relief you deserve, so you can get back to the people and activities you love. Contact us today to learn more and schedule your initial appointment.