Due to hurricane damage, the Havelock location is closed until further notice. Havelock therapists Hannah Zhang, Sarah Hall and Judy Hickes are available to see patients at the New Bern location. Please call the New Bern location at (252) 636-9800 to discuss your care.

Physical therapy after a car crash injury is critical to healing

car crash injury

Physical therapy after a car crash injury is an important part of the healing process. Car accidents can cause a variety of injuries and were responsible for approximately 5.4 million injuries in 2021. These injuries can range from mild bruises or sprains to severe injuries like fractures, spinal damage or soft tissue injuries. Physical therapy can be beneficial to any injury, minor to severe. Physical therapy can help reduce your pain, restore your mobility, boost recovery and help improve your quality of life back to normal. 

Common car accident injuries and their symptoms

Car accidents may leave you with immediately apparent injuries. However, a car accident may also leave you with an injury that is delayed. It is important to recognize the symptoms of immediate and delayed injuries. Prompt medical attention can help in your recovery and treatment. Common injuries and symptoms can include:

  • Head injuriesHead injuries can occur even if there is no direct impact to the head. Head injuries include concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Head injuries need to be addressed quickly. Symptoms of head injuries can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, nausea, memory problems and mood changes. 
  • Broken bones — Broken or fractured bones are common car accident injuries. These are most likely to occur in the arms, legs and ribs. Symptoms of fractures can include severe pain, bruising, swelling or deformities at the injury site. 
  • Whiplash — Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries, affecting approximately 869 million people a year. Whiplash occurs when the head is jerked forward and then backward suddenly. This strains the neck muscles and ligaments. Symptoms of whiplash can include stiffness, neck pain, headaches, and a reduced range of motion in the neck. 
  • Back injuriesBack injuries can involve the spine. These injuries can cause herniated discs or fractured vertebrae and can result from the impact involved in a car crash. Back injury symptoms can include tingling, numbness, weakness in the legs, and back pain. 
  • Soft tissue injuriesSoft tissue injuries are common due to the forceful impacts of vehicle accidents. These can include bruises, sprains, and strains to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Soft tissue injury symptoms may include pain, swelling or a limited mobility of the affected area. 

Delayed symptoms are symptoms of injuries that don’t immediately appear after the accident. These injuries can become apparent hours or even weeks after the car accident. Delayed symptoms may include:

  • Headaches — Headaches can be due to concussions or traumatic brain injuries. They may appear after the shock of the accident has worn off. If you start experiencing headaches after a car accident, it is important to get checked by a health care provider promptly. 
  • Neck and shoulder pain — Whiplash is a common car accident injury, but the symptoms of the pain may not appear until hours or days after the car accident. 
  • Back pain — Back injuries may not immediately appear until the inflammation caused by the injury sets in. 
  • Numbness or tingling — Nerve damage can occur in an accident, and the damage may take some time to become noticeable. 
  • Stomach pain — If you are experiencing stomach pain after a car accident, you could have internal injuries or bleeding. It is vital that you seek immediate medical attention. 

If you suspect you have delayed symptoms, you should get checked out by your medical provider to determine if the delayed symptoms are the result of a more severe injury than appears. 

Signs that you could benefit from seeking physical therapy

Physical therapy is often recommended after a car accident. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following, it could be a sign you could benefit from physical therapy:

  • Lingering pain.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Chronic headaches or migraines.
  • Stiff or sore muscles or joints.
  • Numbness or tingling with no explanation. 
  • Limited range of motion. 
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Muscle weakness. 

Benefits that physical therapy can provide after a car crash injury

Through a variety of techniques and modalities, physical therapy can be incredibly beneficial in helping you recover from injuries sustained from a car accident. Benefits of pursuing physical therapy can include:

  • Avoiding surgery — Physical therapy can help you avoid needing surgical intervention for certain injuries. If surgery is needed, physical therapy is a great option for supporting post-surgical recovery. 
  • Restoring mobilityExercises and stretches intended to boost mobility for certain areas can be beneficial in helping you improve your range of motion. This can be through joint mobilization if you have a joint injury, soft tissue mobilization for soft tissue injuries, and exercises to help rebuild your muscles. Physical therapy can even be beneficial in helping to treat injuries from past car accidents. 
  • Customized care — Physical therapy is not a one-size-fits-all course of treatment. Your physical therapist will conduct a full evaluation of your condition and design an individualized treatment plan based on your injuries and concerns. Your treatment plan can change through your session based on your recovery. Your physical therapist will add and subtract to your plan based on how well you respond to your sessions. 
  • Reducing pain — Physical therapy can help you not only manage your pain but also reduce your reliance on pain medication. Physical therapy modalities can help improve circulation, which in turn, can help promote better healing. 

Seek the help you need to recover from your car accident injury with Peak Performance

Peak Performance can help you recover from your car accident injury. We understand that a car accident can put a hindrance on your busy life, and our team of licensed and expert physical therapists can provide you with top-notch care. From minor aches and pains to more severe injuries needing surgical intervention, a Peak Performance physical therapist can design a custom treatment to your specific needs and concerns. We will help you get on the path to the quickest rehabilitation time to get you back to your normal level of activities. 

Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.