Even a minor fender-bender can cause sprains, strains, and other soft-tissue injuries. What feels like a minor injury may become a major pain without medical attention. After an auto accident, it's important to seek proper medical treatment as soon as you are able. But it's also important to know that some injuries don't manifest until months later. For the good of your health as well as any pending insurance or personal injury claim, get a proper diagnosis and don't let emergency room doctors overlook any possible soft-tissue injuries. If you suffer from muscle spasms, stiffness, numbness or tingling, or back pain, get it checked out.
Most soft-tissue injuries involve the spine. Whiplash, an injury to neck soft tissue, often results from rear-end collisions and can also include injury to ligaments, joints, discs, nerves and cervical muscles. Doctors commonly treat whiplash with a combination of a cervical collar, heat therapy, pain medication such as analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and physical therapy.
Other injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the spine require a trial and error approach to treat. A primary care doctor may initially prescribe medication and rest. He may also refer a patient to a physical therapist, who prescribes stretching and strengthening exercises, or an orthopedist, who can determine whether surgery is necessary. Whether upon recommendation by their doctor or on their own, other patients seek chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage as means to treat back and neck pain.
There is no universal cure-all. One patient may find instant relief with chiropractic care, while others swear by massage and heat. It may take some time and experimentation to determine the best course of treatment.
Don't settle too soon
Whatever course you take, wait until you and your doctor agree that everything has been done to treat your injuries before you consider a settlement offer. You are entitled to compensation for medical treatment as well as time missed from work, among other damages. Get clear documentation of all treatment received for accident-related injuries. This gives validity to your claims of injury and pain and suffering, which is important when determining damages to injuries that we can't see.
If you were injured in a car accident, take care of your health first and foremost. You may have to try a few different treatments to find the best course of action, but have faith that you will find relief. Let an experienced lawyer haggle with the insurance companies to help you achieve the best settlement for your situation.