Some motor vehicle accident injuries require emergency care. This is the case of major injuries to the spinal cord, head or limbs (such as in the case of open bone fractures), which often require surgery or a team of ER providers and hospitalization.
Many other vehicle injuries, however, could easily be treated at an emergency care clinic.
If an ambulance is called or if you’re unconscious, chances are you’ll be taken to the nearest ER. If you are awake and able to get to a provider by yourself, however, you can choose to have somebody drive you to a nearby emergency clinic for treatment.
Regardless of the severity of your injury, it’s important that you always see a provider after a motor vehicle accident. Sometimes injuries are not obvious or could worsen over time if not addressed properly.
Here are the five most common vehicle injuries and what they mean for your health:
Whiplash (a type of neck injury) is perhaps the most common type of vehicle injury. Whiplash happens when a collision causes the head to suddenly shake forward or towards the side. This puts incredible pressure on the ligaments of the neck, causing strains and/or sprains. Most cases of whiplash resolve themselves over a period of time.
More serious neck injuries, such as those that lead to disc herniation, might require extensive physical therapy and sometimes even surgery.
Leg and Knee Injuries
Most people think of the upper body when they think of car injuries, but major accidents commonly result in knee and leg injuries as well. This is usually the result of part of the car getting smashed into the driver or passenger and can lead to everything from cuts to bruises to broken bones. The knees are especially prone to tearing and dislocation, but it’s also possible to injure your ankles or break toes during a car accident.
Broken bones always require emergency care. Some can be repaired with a cast, while others might require surgery and hospitalization. This is in part determined by which bones have been broken but also how – bones that break in more than one piece are difficult to piece back together and might require the use of metal plates or screws.
The most serious types of bone fractures are “compound fractures,” where the bone pierces the skin and sticks out. This is considered a major emergency because of the pain involved and the high risk of infection.
Injuries to your back and spine can be very delicate. While minor injuries such as strains and disc dislocations often only require supportive care, blunt force can also cause serious injury to the spine and lead to chronic pain and even loss of mobility.
Concussions occur when the brain is shaken severely inside the skull. This is often the result of hitting your head on the window or the steering wheel after a serious collision, but it can also happen without your head ever hitting any surface.
Mild contusions often require just lots of rest and sleep to allow the bruising on your brain to heal. More serious contusions might require hospitalization, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms like vomiting, severe nausea, headaches and disorientation.
Traumatic brain injuries and severe contusions might require surgery to alleviate any serious bleeding or pressure that appears on the brain after the accident. Any head trauma that causes you to black out (even for a few seconds) is serious enough to warrant a visit to an urgent care clinic.