Frequently Asked Questions - What Injuries Can You Sustain From A Rear End Accident?
Being involved in an automobile accident can be very traumatizing and you can sustain an array of debilitating injuries. A rear end accident is the most common type of automobile accident to occur and can range from virtually no vehicle damage to a total loss. What makes rear end accident injuries different than other types of automobile accident injuries? For one, your vehicle doesn’t have to sustain tremendous damage to be injured from a rear end accident. Even a slight tap is enough to cause whiplash in your neck. Whiplash is similar to a sprain or strain. It is caused when your head is jerked back and forth very quickly in a rocking motion. Whiplash is usually a minor injury and can be treated with physical therapy, manual manipulation, massage, hot and cold packs or electrical muscle stimulation. Typically whiplash injuries heal over time and do not cause much permanent damage. If you suspect you have whiplash, it’s always best to consult with a doctor right away as they will refer you for an MRI which can determine if there are any underlying issues. If not, your doctor will probably refer you for physical therapy to help relieve the pain.
When you are rear ended, most of the time your body will be thrown forward and then backwards pretty hard, causing your head to hit the back of your seat or possibly the steering wheel or dashboard. Obviously, the harder you are hit, the more force is put upon your body. This can result in a concussion. Concussions occur in a lot of rear end collisions because of this back and forth motion. Concussion symptoms can range from headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion, forgetfulness, dizziness, nausea, delayed speech or response and tiredness. If you experience any of these symptoms, the best thing you can do is seek emergency medical treatment immediately at your nearest emergency room where several tests will be performed in order to diagnose your injury. If you do in fact have a concussion, the best thing you can do is restrain from physical activities and get plenty of rest until your symptoms resolve. You should always follow up with your physician who will let you know when it’s safe for you to resume your normal daily activities. If you have a headache after a rear end accident, it’s better to seek emergency treatment right away opposed to hoping the symptoms go away.
Another very common rear end accident injury is knee pain. A lot of people sit too close to the steering wheel, causing their legs to be much closer to the lower part of the dashboard than they should be. If you are too close and you are rear ended, chances are your knees are going to slam into the dash. These injuries can vary from a bruised knee or a ligament tear to a broken patella. If you have any type of knee pain, your doctor or emergency room physician will order an MRI to determine the extent of the damage. Usually fractures or tears will require surgery which is why it’s so important to determine right away how bad the damage actually is. If you opt not to undergo surgery for this type of injury, it can get worse over time and you may have a hard time walking, if you’re able to even bear weight on that leg at all. If you do end up having knee surgery, you will be instructed not to bear any weight on the leg for the next few weeks until it is healed.
Spinal injuries are very common after a rear end automobile accident. Spinal discs are made of fibrocartilage which are located between the bony vertebral body which makes it possible for you to move and twist your body. The back and forth motion put upon your body in a rear end collision can caused these discs to rupture. The most common spinal damage is a bulging or herniated disc. A disc bulge is where the annulus inside of your discs presses on the spinal column and nerves. A herniated disc is where the entire disc is ruptured pushing the annulus outside of its normal position inside the disc. Once the discs are damaged, you will experience significant back pain. Some people report a sensation of shock waves through their upper body, causing the arms or legs to go numb, which is called radiculitis. The only sure way to know if you have damaged your spine is to undergo an MRI. An MRI can take pictures of these discs and the radiologist will interpret the films and relay them to your doctor in a written report. Bulging or herniated discs can be treated with various procedures. The most common procedure is an epidural steroid injection. A needle is placed inside the disc which numbs the area to help relieve the pain. For most people, this is only a temporary solution. A more permanent solution would be to undergo surgery. In the past few years, spinal surgery has advanced to the point where the surgeon no longer needs to cut you open. They make a small incision and place a laser inside which then removes the portion of the disc that is causing the pain. This normally results in a stitch or two and virtually no scar. The majority of the time, this is done as an outpatient procedure.
Broken bones tend to be the least common rear end injury; however, they do happen occasionally. X-rays are the fastest way to determine a broken bone. If you feel you have a broken bone, the best thing to do is head to your nearest emergency room where x-rays can be performed to determine if a break has occurred. If the x-rays reveal a fracture, you will be placed in a cast or sling, depending where the break is and be instructed to limit your activities.