Summertime is driving time. If the fact that gas prices are usually higher in the summer than the winter isn’t a tell-tale sign, we tend to hit the road more often in the summer. It makes sense. From local day trips, to cross-country road trips, travelling by car simply makes more sense when there’s no risk that roads will be covered in ice and snow.
But all that warm-weather driving actually makes summer a more dangerous time to drive than winter. With more time on the road, and coming up against more traffic, more car accidents are reported in Canada in the summer than in the winter. In fact, about 20% of the annual accidents reported in Canada each year happen in the months of July and August.
Even if there are no personal injuries, a motor vehicle accident is stressful. From simply having your trip interrupted, to potentially needing to make alternative transportation arrangements, there’s no pleasant car accident.
If there is any ‘good’ news about those accidents where this is a personal injury, it is that most of them don’t cause serious injuries that can affect you and mean ongoing physical therapy and/or medical treatment.
In fact, contrary to what many people think, car accidents more often cause ‘soft tissue’ injuries, including whiplash, than injuries like broken arms or legs. While you’ll often see a car accident victim in movies and TV shows in all kinds of leg and arm casts, the reality is that if you suffer the common injuries from motor vehicle accidents you’ll most likely need some form of physical therapy instead.
Soft-Tissue Injuries Caused by Car Accidents
The soft tissue injuries suffered in car collisions are generally caused by the rapid acceleration or deceleration of your body during the impact of the collision. The motion can cause tendons, muscles and ligaments to stretch beyond the capabilities and even tear.
Even the term ‘whiplash’ comes from the back and forth motion of the neck, like the motion of a whip, in a collision, usually from the rear. The whipping motion can strain and/or damage your neck’s intervertebral joints, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles and nerve roots.
As a series of discs, the forces of an impact can put your back or neck out of line, in addition to the stretching and tearing of muscles and ligaments in your neck, shoulder, mid-back and lower back.
The forces of a collision can over-extend joints, including your shoulders and knees, in directions that are unnatural to them.
A contusion happens when parts of your body contact or are contacted by hard objects, like the steering wheel. The impact damages underlying muscle and connective tissue resulting in bruising and pain.
Treatments for Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
Considering that these are all soft tissue injuries, physical therapy is generally the best way to reduce the pain and return the injured area to its normal function. Some forms of therapy are better suited for certain inure and some therapies can help all types of injuries.
When your body’s soft tissues are stretched or torn, they can become inflamed. Massage therapy improves circulation in the injured area. That circulation flushes away the toxins produced by the inflammation and brings much-needed oxygen and nutrients to help start healing the injury.
Physiotherapy helps to return the proper function, range of motion and strength to damaged joints and limbs. The return to normal functioning helps reduce pain and reduces the chance of further injury.
Chiropractic treatments can help realign the back, shoulders and neck to reduce pain in the muscles and other soft tissue in the affected area.
Acupuncture stimulates your body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms to make it easier for injured areas to heal sooner.
We hope you never get into a car accident. If you do, we hope your injuries are of the more common, treatable variety. If you have been in an accident and you’re feeling any unusual pain, call Active Health Centre, we can help.