Monday, 20 June 2011

Car Accident? Physical Therapy Can Help

Each year, 2 million people suffer from whiplash related to car accidents in the United States alone.

Studies using high-speed cameras and sophisticated crash dummies have revealed that rear impact car accidents result in a condition called ‘whiplash’.

This forces the bones of the lower cervical spine (the neck) into hyper-extension (backward bending motion) while the bones of the upper neck are suddenly thrust into hyper-flexion (forward bending motion). In a split second, the normal curvature of the cervical spine is disrupted and the consequences can range from mild to serious.

A sudden, abnormal motion to a sensitive region like the neck causes damage to the soft tissues (ligaments and muscles) of the cervical spine. This leads to inflammation and pain.

Common symptoms:

The most common symptoms related to whiplash include:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Shoulder pain
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw pain
  • Arm pain/weakness/ tingling
  • Back pain
Physical Therapy Helps Recovery

Recent studies have shown that physical therapy may be the best choice to decrease pain, improve mobility, and minimize lost productivity as a direct result of whiplash-associated disorders.

In a study in the Journal of Rheumatology (2007), a systematic review was performed of the existing literature on neck pain related to car accidents. The evidence strongly supported the use of stretching/strengthening exercises and mobilizations. Also, treatment with physical therapy was less expensive in the long run and reduced long-term disability compared to other treatment options.

An article in the Emergency Medical Journal (2006) compared two groups of individuals recovering from car accidents. The first group received mobilization and exercise therapy (components of physical therapy) and the second group was treated with medication and a cervical collar. The group that received physical therapy had significantly less headaches and other symptoms related to whiplash compared to the second group.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, the best thing you can do is to have them call our office today. The longer you wait to seek the expertise of one of our licensed physical therapists, the more prolonged the recovery process is likely to be. Don’t wait, pick up the phone and schedule an appointment right away.

An Active Approach To Be Pain-Free Again

In most cases, the potential for recover is high, especially with the right care as early as possible. A return to activity as soon as possible helps significantly. Although symptoms may be around for a while, the pain will improve within a few days or weeks. Be sure to continue with the medicines prescribed by your doctor to aid with early movement.

Remember that prolonged inactivity does NOT help. Keep moving - it's important. Avoid staying in the same position for too long to avoid tightness and loss of flexibility.

Exercise plays a big role in recovery. Simple neck and shoulder exercises are safe and effective. Stretching, strengthening and coordination exercises should be done regularly each day. Some soreness after exercise is to be expected. It is not a cause for concern.

Physical therapy, in conjunction with standard medical care, has been shown to be the best choice to decrease pain, improve mobility and help you return to normal daily activities after a car accident. We can help you. Just contact us to see what we can do for you.

If you have had a car accident, the first step toward recovery starts with us. Schedule your risk free appointment with your physical therapist. Let us help you return to a healthy, pain-free life once again.