6 million auto accidents occur in the United States every single year, an astounding 11 accidents every single minute! And what’s more, close to half of them are rear end collision’s…meaning more often than not its a total surprise. And what word do we hear the most when people complain of pain…well, you guessed it WHIPLASH! What the neck is whiplash you say…well in short when your car gets hit from behind the natural reaction for your body is to do just that, REACT! And one of the most common reaction causes your neck to jerk and extend in a range of motion uncommon to your body…and the pain that’s associated with this is not fun. What’s worse a majority of folks will describe the pain as intensifying and feeling worse the next morning and day. Now you might ask your self the question “self, I can get over a little whiplash”; which actually isn’t entirely incorrect. The human body is an amazing organism that sure does an incredible job at self healing…but the REAL question is how long will it take my body to heal. Often times depending on the severity of the whiplash and collision it could take upwards of 6 weeks or more before youre your real self. Six weeks before you can sleep comfortably at night, six weeks of maybe having the dreaded “stiff neck”, six weeks of having to worry about when you’re going to get back to being pain free! NOT FUN.
Here are a few of the early symptoms our patients
have reported to us:
- PAIN and Stiffness in the head, neck, and shoulders
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Chronic migraines or headaches
- Tingling and numbness in the upper extremities
- Dizziness and Fatigue
At this point you’re probably wondering… is there any good news here?! Rest assured there is…and its simply starting your Physical Therapy treatment
ASAP! We have therapists that are experts in auto accident injuries and can help assess the severity of your injury and get you going in a simple rehab program
geared towards your treatment goals. The faster you get on top of aching and stiff muscles, the faster your body and life can get back to normal. But its one thing to just say treatment is important, its another thing to tell you why…
1) Patients often don’t realize just how bad their car accident-related injuries are until after they’ve returned to their normal daily activities. Pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, and chronic headaches or migraines are just a few of the common injuries our patents will report; so we’re talking about stuff that can turn long term if we’re not careful. Specifically, a combination of therapeutic exercise and manual massage and mobilization techniques are what’s key in improving your flexibility and strength while your body is in the healing phase. In this fast paced world that we live in today, I’m pretty sure laying in bed for a few days in recovery is not an ideal choice for you or anyone else for that matter. So don’t hesitate, take the first step and get into treatment so you can be the real you sooner rather than later!
2) Looking at the prism of healing and recovery through the lens of someone just beginning to recover from an auto accident is truly quite interesting…in that there may not be a vision at all. It makes sense, your’e so engulfed in the present pain and discomfort at hand WHO has the room to worry about the future outlook?!. Well, I can tell you this much…coming from a clinician’s view (my own) it is really telling to note the difference between patients who start treatment right away after a collision and those that delay and start treatment when they may have moved into the chronic phase. And speaking to this chronic phase…that is not where you want to be!. I often times like to compare the human body to that of the vehicle you drive on a daily basis; in that its use on a daily basis requires a level attention and care. A care and attention that if left to neglect can turn a basic oil change that’s several months overdue due to trickle down dysfunction in your cars working engine. An engine that will start to become suspect because of a lack of timely care. Your body isn’t all that different in that a cervical and thoracic strain/sprain which has gone from being acute to chronic due to lack of attention and treatment can oftentimes lead to long-term cervial spine disfunction, postural abnormalities, nerve and orthopedic shoulder impingement, chronic migraines, and more….chronic migraines being one you surely want to have no part of! Just like any broken record you know what I’m going to say…GET INTO TREATMENT! So that you aren’t the one experiencing long term damage from a split second glitch on the road.
3) SURGERY…when you see this word like most people you automatically cringe and
think of the worst imaginable situation (probably a scene from a scary movie or a terrorizing account you read on the web or saw on the news). And don’t get me wrong, surgery is not something to get excited about, but if you are reading this article
and are in the process of having surgery or have had surgery to address an auto accident injury hope is not all lost! PT is most assuredly a tool that will undoubtedly brighten your future outlook. Along with overall wear and tear that your body endures along with your chronic pain, the goal of surgery is to in theory address your disfunction and bring you to your normal state of function and living pain free or close to that. In reality, in order for this theory to take shape different things must go your way…some you can control and some you can’t. Unfortunately you’re probably not going to be able to control your surgeons hand’s and upper extremities during surgery, or the amount of blood flow traveling to recovering muscles and tendons right after surgery. But what you can control is the start of physical therapy and the effort you put forth towards recovery, which from the perspective of the PT treatment
room, is truly an amazing feat to witness. Physical Therapy will help to strengthen vulnerable muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which indirectly work to protect various structures down your functional movement chain.
4) And now comes the time when I need to share this small secret I’ve witness throughout my years treating patients…ready for this nugget? MOVEMENT IS GOOD FOR YOUR BODY!.
Ok, maybe that’s not a huge surprise that’s going to be life changing for you but its true; from both a biological and chemical standpoint, as well as from a mental vantage point as well. Part of many doctor’s orders immediately after an accident is rest…which isn’t entirely a bad thing. It’s just that being bed ridden for a majority of the day early on can open the door for other points of dysfunction like de-conditioning and overall muscular fatigue and stiffness. So Yes! General movement is a good thing. Internally speaking, movement pumps oxygenated blood and other nutrients to the injury site, which in turn helps the body heal from the inside out. Hey and when you move and are incorporated into a therapeutic exercise program that our skilled therapists work tirelessly at developing, you get these interesting chemicals called Endorphins that get released from your brain and into your nervous system. Without getting too technical here, endorphins basically are hormones that directly attach to pain reducing sensors in our nervous system that emit signals changing our perception of pain. So YES exercise helps to decrease our sensation of pain and discomfort! But that’s just half the battle here, as the mental aspect of movement and recovery are just as paramount. Movement in a physical therapy program along with at home treatment and movement progression enables our therapists to help mentally switch your brain from focusing on the pain at hand to the solution at hand. Having a set schedule that you abide by also puts you in a new mode of focus that begins with getting basic movement in therapy to ultimately getting to exercise and movement outside of the clinic with hobbies in sports, activities, and your leisurely activities.
So what’s my advice to you if you’ve read this far??
Take the first step and START YOUR TREATMENT TODAY!!
Only then will you be able to see what I’ve been able to share with you here and what other’s have already been able to take advantage of here at ALLIANCE PHYSICAL THERAPY
. Contact any one of our 16 locations between northern VA, Washington DC, and Richmond and our scheduling experts will get you in the best spot for you to start your journey. Or, visit the “Request an Appt”
tab on the website and we’ll have the same experts reach out to you through the website
, or Facebook
. TAKE THE FIRST STEP!
About the author:
*Samson Belai is a clinician treating at the various Alliance physical therapy
offices in the N.Virginia region and has spent various coursework and field work in orthopedic and post auto-accident treatment rehab. Licensed since 2010, Samson has been involved in the progress and road to recovery of hundreds of patients in the busy metropolitan and northern Virginia region.