Physical Therapy after an auto accident is crucial to helping you start the healing process.
Auto Accidents can cause severe pain that should be treated as soon as possible, and is one of the most common ailments that we see at Siskiyou PT. There are several problems that people may encounter after an auto accident. There can be very serious situations such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries or nerve irritation. However, these types of situations are very infrequent. More commonly, as a result of an auto accident, most patients have some degree of neck or low back pain. A common mistake people make is assuming their pain will go away and defer treatment until their symptoms start becoming even more debilitating. Most patients find quick relief as a result of starting physical therapy after an auto accident.
The statistics regarding auto accidents are staggering. According to the census bureau, annually there are almost 11 million reported auto accidents. The number of injuries is between 2-3 million yearly. So auto accident injuries are a serious and frequent problem.
There are several things that you should know about auto accident injuries and physical therapy.
1: The speed of the auto accident and the damage to the vehicles is not a good indicator of injury:
People will often dismiss their injuries because the auto accident was at a slower speed or because it was a minor fender bender. I see people all the time in the clinic who have significant problems after a minor auto accident. Also, I see people who do great after a high speed auto accident.
2: Some of the symptoms to be aware of include: muscle tightness, inability to move neck, dizziness, headaches and abnormal sensations:
All of the above symptoms indicate that you may be suffering from whiplash if not something more serious. In these situations, it is imperative that you seek medical attention as these symptoms may become worse or become harder to get get rid of.
3: Get help soon after the auto accident:
People who delay getting help often have a more difficult time getting relief. If you are not pro-active about getting help, your spine will stiffen up and muscle tightness and spasms are more difficult to deal with. The thought “Oh I’ll wait and see if I feel better” will often times prolong your recovery from an auto accident.
4: Passive interventions help more early in rehab:
There are times early in rehab when modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation and soft tissue work may be very useful in recovering from an auto accident. However, over the long term, active interventions such as stretching, exercise and postural activities are needed to maintain gains.
5: Physical Therapy should not be painful:
Physical Therapy has to focus on managing pain levels in order to prevent muscle spasm and guarding from an auto accident. Physical therapy should be something to look forward to rather than something to be fearful about or dreading. If you are experiencing pain as a result of treatment make sure you inform your provider as this can be very counter productive.
6: Beware of:
Most people are not aware that their medical bills will be covered by the auto insurance company for up to 1 year from the accident. Beyond that you will have to pay for your medical bills either out of pocket or through your private insurance. This makes it even more crucial that you get started immediately with physical therapy after an auto accident before you run out of time.
If you are in an auto accident a bad thing has happened to you. Often people are wading through a maze of insurance and getting their car fixed. Remember, it is also very important that you take care of yourself and take care of your physical problems. Physical therapy should be something to look forward to, you should feel better afterward and it should speed your recover to regain your life the way it was before your auto accident.
As a reminder, patients do not need a referral from their doctor to go to physical therapy. Call now to make an appointment, and we’ll send all necessary communications to your primary care provider.
Jon Hill, DPT, Licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy with Siskiyou PT
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