Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recovering from a Motor Vehicle Accident

     Getting rear-ended, into a fender bender, or even into a head-on collision is not uncommon these days.  You know what isn't common? Common sense.  But I digress.  Every day people are getting injured due to a motor vehicle accident.  The most common injuries are whiplash and lower back sprain/strain.

     Whiplash, also called neck sprain or neck strain, is injury to the neck. It is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged.  Whiplash is caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head, either backward or forward; and as I've said, is most commonly caused by a MVA (motor vehicle accident); specifically, getting rear-ended.  Symptoms can include (but are not limited to) neck pain, headaches, neck stiffness, pain in the shoulders or in between the shoulder blades, pain or numbness traveling down the arm and/or hand, ringing in the ears or blurred vision, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, sleep disturbance, and fatigue.  Of these, the most common symptoms I have encountered with my clients is the neck pain and stiffness that travels down into the shoulders, and headaches.

     The second most common injury due to a MVA is lower back pain (a.k.a. lower back sprain/strain).  A low back muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibers are abnormally stretched or torn. A lumbar sprain occurs when the ligaments, the tough bands of tissue that hold bones together, are torn from their attachments.  Unfortunately, this can occur no matter how your vehicle was hit.  Aside from just feeling pain in your lower back muscles (which by the way can travel into your buttocks and down your legs), I have had many clients tell me there is also stiffness involved.

     Now, I'm not saying that these two injuries will occur everytime you're involved in a MVA.  That's just not true.  I know plenty of people who have been in a MVA and have walked away with a perfect bill of health.  But, these two are the most common.  Other possible injuries can include scratches, bruises, dislocated joints, internal bleeding and loss of limbs/life (if the accident was quite severe), etc.  But, I mention these two because those are the injuries I have worked on the most.

     Massage Therapy is an excellent aide to helping your muscles/body recover from a MVA.  It can help you recover by helping to restore balance to your autonomic nervous system (i.e., the relaxation benefits of massage can help reverse the effects that the shock and trauma of a car wreck can have on your nervous system). Massage also promotes circulation of both blood and lymph, which can help manage the swelling (edema) that usually comes with auto accident injuries. During the sub-acute stage (a few days to a few weeks, or even longer, after the accident), massage can help maintain and improve range of motion and may help prevent the formation of scar tissue and other myofascial adhesions. It can address specific musculoskeletal injuries like whiplash, neck pain, back pain, headaches, shoulder sprains/strains, etc.  For the past 6.5 years, I have worked on many (I don't even know the number) clients who have suffered injuries due to a MVA.  And now, they are better for it.

     So, if you or anyone you know, have been injured in a MVA, tell them to get a massage! It will help them recover so much faster.